Let’s Talk: Bridging Divisive Lines Though Inclusive and Respectful Conversations
Foreword by Richard J. Mouw, Afterwords by David P. Gushee and Stan D. Gaede
The state of public discourse in America is dismal, reflecting an extreme us-versus-them tribalism where “me and my folks” have the full truth about the contentious issue at hand and “those other folks” are devoid of any truth and can even be demonized as evil. Rather than just cursing this darkness, Harold Heie presents what he considers to be a “better way” for those who disagree about contentious issues to respectfully engage one another, a way that is deeply informed by his Christian faith perspective; a way that reflects his understanding that to listen carefully to those who disagree with you and to then talk respectfully about your disagreements is a deep expression of the love for others to which Jesus calls all those who claim to be his followers.
But this book is not just an abstract consideration of the nature of civil public discourse. Rather, drawing on his successes and failures, the beautiful and the ugly, in his attempts to orchestrate respectful conversations on contentious issues, both online and in small-group face-to-face meetings during the past decade, Heie presents practical, concrete proposals for how to talk to one another about significant disagreements, particularly in Christian churches that have tragically succumbed to tribalism.
“The way that–in this social and political climate–Harold Heie believes it might just be possible to have ‘respectful conversations’ in which ‘listening well’ prevails must make him the Don Quixote of the Christian world. But maybe, instead of being lost in a never-never land of impossibility, Harold is actually walking the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Read the book to find out why that outrageous idea might actually be the truth.
Mark Noll, author of Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind
“In this revealing and compelling memoir, Heie demonstrates the many qualities that set him apart as a mature and exemplary follower of Jesus. For years, Heie has been calling us to what he calls ‘respectful conversations,’ marked by the biblical characteristics of ‘gentleness and respect.’ Those qualities, together with the author’s characteristic humility, make this a book worthy of serious consideration.”
Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College
“Thanks to Harold Heie for his new book, Let’s Talk. God knows how much we need it in these divisive times! If you’d like to be part of the solution rather than just complaining about the problem, this is a timely, helpful resource.”
Brian D. McLaren, author of Faith after Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do about It.
Reforming American Politics
In sharp contrast to the toxic conversation that prevails in contemporary American politics, Heie proposes a “better way”; a “Christian way.” Based on core Christian values, he proposes a “Way Forward” beyond the us-versus-them tribalistic fighting mentality that currently plagues politics
In an age of flaming rhetoric … Harold Heie exemplifies a much better way. It is hard to imagine a better book for times like these.
–Mark Noll, best-selling evangelical historian
Heie does not settle for bromides or platitudes. He insists on thoughtful, theological, informed discussions, and he points us, all of us, toward a better way.
–Randall Balmer, award-winning journalist and scholar of American religion
Harold Heie practices what he preaches – which is civil conversation, from a serious Christian theological perspective, amid a context of brutal division. He doesn’t just theorize about this essential challenge – he creates contexts that model the way forward. This book is an impressive example of what Heie is about. I strongly recommend it – and the practices it embodies.
–David P. Gushee, Christian ethicist, Mercer University
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Respectful LGBT Conversations: Seeking Truth, Giving Love, and Modeling Christian Unity
In stark contrast to the shrill and nasty interactions among many Christians regarding contentious LGBT issues, this book models a redemptive mode of engagement by featuring respectful conversations among deeply committed Christians who hold to diverging traditional and non-traditional views. The foundational values guiding these conversations are the quest for truth, giving the gift of love to all brothers and sisters in Christ, and modeling Christian unity. Emerging from these conversations are practical steps for a way forward that include creating safe spaces for ongoing conversation and practicing courageous Christian leadership. Based on case studies for a Christian university and two Christian churches, this book provides helpful advice for navigating conflict within churches, Christian denominations, and Christian educational institutions.
Harold Heie is one of the few people in evangelical Christianity who could manage what he will be able to do in this book—host and synthesize a thoughtful conversation about LGBT issues among evangelicals. . . . His track record is impeccable.
–David Gushee, Mercer University
Harold Heie has an excellent track record as a convener of conversations on vexing topics—genuine conversations, in which the participants listen carefully and engage one another. Are their differences magically resolved? Not at all. But such conversations serve as a model for the ‘confident pluralism,’ as John Inazu calls it, to which we should aspire. We should all be grateful to Heie and the conversation-partners who contributed to this volume. May their tribe increase.
–John Wilson, Christianity Today
Through several different channels, Harold Heie has worked very hard at getting Christian believers to talk to each other directly, even on sensitive issues like the subject of this book. As someone who leans strongly toward traditional views on sexuality and marriage, I find myself leaning even more strongly toward efforts at encouraging charity, mutual comprehension, and respect for the extraordinary diversity within the body of Christ. This book should be appreciated by all who share a commitment to those ideals.
–Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
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A Future for American Evangelicalism
This book proposes that participation in “God’s Project of Reconciliation” is the “Center” that can hold evangelical Christians together in the midst of great diversity in belief and ecclesiastical practices. The author envisions a vibrant future for the Evangelical movement if professing evangelicals can model that rare combination of deep commitment to their own beliefs; openness to listen- ing to the beliefs of others; and willingness to engage in respectful conversation with those who disagree with them in place of the combativeness that has characterized too much of Evangelicalism in the recent past. The book models this type of conversation on such controversial issues as the exclusivity of Christianity, the inerrancy of the bible, Evangelicalism and morality, Evangeli- calism and politics, scientific models on humanity, cosmic and human origins, and the future of evangelical higher education.
Harold Heie is an admirable leader in advocating that evangelicals should combine their firm commit- ments with Christian virtues such as generosity, respect, and humility toward those who differ with them. That has been the premise of his valuable “Respectful Conversation” website from which many of the insights in this book are drawn. Anyone who wants to know the state of the conversation about American evangelicalism will find this volume to be an excellent resource.
–George Marsden, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
This stimulating and hopeful book features the best kind of respectful conversations among American
evangelical believers. Harold Heie is convinced that actually communicating with others who hold slightly different—or very different—convictions about what evangelical Christianity should be creates the best path into the future. This book puts that conviction into practice. As it takes up issues that often divide evangelicals into angry sub-camps, the result is a welcome promotion of civility, balance, and humility—all of which reflect the Christian gospel in its most attractive form.
—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
On the subject of American evangelicalism, vapid generalizations abound. Harold Heie provides a much-needed alternative. Both longtime students of the subject and relative newcomers will profit from this model of respectful (but far from bland) conversation.
—John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture
Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues: Sustaining a Respectful Political Conversation
Abilene Christian University Press
Six politically diverse evangelical Christians model a better way to do politics: respectful conversation about twelve public policy issues that uncover common ground and illuminate remaining disagreements.
Current political discourse is broken, characterized by nasty sound bytes, demonizing the opposition, and holding to fixed positions that resist the discovery of the common ground needed for governing. In this volume six evangelical Christians model a better way, informed by the belief that the call of Christians to love their neighbors should create a welcoming space for persons to talk respectfully about their disagreements.
Harold Heie affirms the very unfashionable notion that when Christian believers actually talk with one another, good things are possible. Amazingly, he also holds that such a hopelessly old fashioned idea should apply to political differences. For readers who long for such old fashioned and unfashionable respect, dialogue, listening, and learning, this book shows the way. It holds out one more almost unimaginable prospect: that Christian approaches to politics might live up to what the founder of Christianity modeled and in so doing contribute much-needed light and salt to the public square.
–Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
Harold Heie has rendered invaluable service to evangelicalism, the church, and society by providing a model for sustained and constructive discourse among people from all points on the political spectrum. Evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike will be surprised by the diversity of evangelical views, but all of us will learn and benefit from the comity exhibited in these pages.
–Randall Balmer, Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences, Dartmouth College, Author of “The Making of Evangelicalism”
Time to tune out the histrionics of modern political discourse and tune in to this conversation! From the outset, this fine volume seeks to model responsible civil discourse, which is a duty of every citizen in a political community. While the contributors hold diverse views, Harold Heie skillfully guides the “Alternative Political Conversation” to identify areas of agreement. Readers will be encouraged by the sustained and principled commitment to address the remaining differences, leading to responsible action for the sake of the common good.
–Stephanie Summers, CEO, Center for Public Justice
Political discourse today all too often exhibits a general lack of respect, as political conversations degenerate into name-calling, distortions of the positions adopted by one’s political opponents, and the outright dismissal of any merits associated with the proposals of those adopting different positions other than one’s own. However, here at last, we see modeled serious political engagement. Though their perspectives and positions may differ, here proponents of different policy positions take the opposing perspectives of others seriously and respond courteously. Hopefully, this effort at political reflection and discussion can begin to encourage others, including evangelical Christians, to engage in deeper and more respectful political reflection and conversation.
–Corwin E. Smidt, Research Fellow, the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Calvin College
Lots of people talk about “dialogue” in a pious way, but what they actually have in mind is a staged event that proceeds to the right conclusion (theirs). Harold Heie, like Michael Oakeshott, genuinely believes in conversation for its own sake. I’m grateful to Harold and the contributors to this volume for reminding us all that real conversation is indeed possible—and worth the effort it requires.
–John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture
Soul Care: Christian Faith and Academic Administration
Abilene Christian University Press
Christian academic administration is a peculiar journey for which few are prepared; and those who embark on it are often surprised. These writers describe the deep faith, substantial knowledge, and leadership skill required to serve well as such middle earth pilgrims. Their tales and templates for identity, choice, and community offer Christian guidance for joint expeditions in higher education. Shop talk and soul craft intersect and inspire along the way. In a time of systemic educational change, this volume delivers an applied theology for fellow travelers who share this wondrous calling.
— Shirley J. Roels, Senior Advisor, Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education, Council of Independent Colleges; and Professor of Management, Calvin College
Christian higher education has needed this book for some time. Inspired by a vision for soul-filled leadership, and drawing from very deep wells of experience, this rich collection of essays is a must read. Heie and Sargent brought together a group of scholar-leaders who represent some of the freshest thinking with timely counsel for those who are called to lead and serve in Christ-centered higher education. This book will find a prominent place in the ever-evolving literature on our movement and, more importantly, will help direct our thinking and our practice as leaders.
— Ronald P. Mahurin, Vice President for Professional Development & Research, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
I am pleased to recommend Soul Care to those who are called to serve in positions of academic administration. Whether seasoned by years of experience or new to the work of academic leadership, readers will be helped and encouraged through their engagement with this volume. These transparent and reflective essays provide thoughtful guidance and advice that will strengthen academic communities for the days ahead.
— David S. Dockery, President, Union University; author of Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society through Christian Higher Education
Learning to Listen, Ready to Talk: A Pilgrimage towards Peacekeeping
Read a review published at The Trinity Forum June 6, 2008
“A gifted story teller, Harold Heie narrates the experiences of a lifetime as college teacher and administrator that taught him the way of peaceful and respectful conversation. His story is fascinating, his wit and wisdom priceless, his advice seasoned and sane. Inviting us into conversations he creates, he shows how it is done, and pleads with us to do likewise.”
—Arthur Holmes, professor of philosophy emeritus, Wheaton College
“Harold Heie treats us to an always-engrossing personal tale that speaks to everyone. Heie has a dream (we see it take shape), but he convinces us that openness to other visions—respectful conversation among us all—is vital for any earthly good that lies ahead. Heie’s eloquent plea for commitment and openness will prove contagious and revolutionary.”
—Paul Borgman, professor of English, Gordon College
“Harold Heie writes with conviction, clarity, grace and humility, blending rich personal narrative with intellectual and spiritual force. This book should be required reading for all faculty, administrators, staff and trustees who are leaders in Christian higher education. Beware! It may change your view of leadership.”
—Ronald Mahurin, vice president, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
“Truth be told, the Truth is not in us. But it has found a good home in its servant, Harold Heie. He embodies his own teaching.”
—From the Forward, Stan Gaede, scholar-in-residence, Gordon College. President, 2001–2006, Westmont College
Mutual Treasure: Seeking better ways for Christians and Culture to Converse
by Harold Heie, Michael A. King
These essays show us concrete ways in which Christians can authentically engage culture without resorting either to simple condemnation or compromise. Heie’s and King’s collection challenges us to think creatively about the challenges of discipleship in a divided world. Believers working in every quarter of the culture will be in their debt.
— Jeanne Heffernan Schindler, Department of Humanities, Villanova University
Representing a wide variety of theological streams within the larger evangelical family, the authors provide practical suggestions for engaging our culture in dialogue about some of the most challenging issues we face. We can learn much from their stories of meaningful interaction with those who hold differing points of view.
— Loren Swartzentruber, President, Eastern Mennonite University
Heie, King, and their collaborators have produced a book that advances the project of Christian learning in distinctive ways. Its contributors speak with authority; they join practice with principle creatively; they are seeking new paths for linking faith and scholarship. The book deserves careful attention – read it and think!
— Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
The editors do not just argue that Christians can be more effective agents of redemption by respectful dialogue than by aggressive confrontation; they present eight highly diverse and imaginative case studies in which this actually happened. It’s a timely and very important contribution.
— Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University
In an era in which biting partisanship has come to characterize what passes for public discourse, the contributors present a very different, irenic model. This is an instructive, inspiring book; the approaches offered here are eminently worthy of emulation.
— Randall Balmer, Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington, Connecticut
The Realities of Christian Learning: Strategies for Faith Discipline Interaction
by Harold Heie, David L. Wolfe
This is a major how-to-do-it regarding the integration of faith and learning …. It could significantly advance efforts at integration among Christian scholars and teachers.
— Arthur Holmes, professor of philosophy emeritus, Wheaton College
The editors present a typology of various strategies for faith-discipline integration, which are then exemplified by two essays in each of seven disciplines – political science, sociology, psychology, biology, mathematics, the arts, and philosophy. In each discipline, a principal essayist addresses a significant issue from a Christian perspective; a respondent then analyzes that essay, suggesting at least one alternative approach.