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Division Through Dialogue
by James Robison
Conversation has been called "the lost art." Despite an endless amount of talk nowadays, there seems to not be enough real dialogue. However, a few attempts at productive conversation have caught my attention in the last few months and they are worthy of noting.
Although some may view Israel's attempt to make peace with Palestine as a futile compromise, it seems to me to be a commendable and compassionate effort. Success will come when the Palestinians lay aside violence and radical Muslim leaders cease calling for the extermination of Israel. Then, the "peace talks" can become a more fruitful conversation.
President Bush has been in Asia, bolstering China's relationship with the free world while urging the Communist leaders to allow more economic and religious freedom. China's progress, Bush asserts, would not be jeopardized by more freedom; it would be enhanced. He also boldly emphasized the importance of democracy as one of freedom's greatest expressions and privileges. The president indicated that he would, once again, share his personal faith with Chinese leader Hu Jintao.
Some would call this type of conversation a compromise; others would say it is dangerous. But America must not be afraid to openly debate ideas, even with perceived enemies. Refusal to dialogue could prove to be the greatest compromise of all.
People build walls far too often. Many times they are erroneously supported by religious teachings. It is noteworthy that the founder of Christianity prayed that there would be oneness among His followers: unity with God, with one another and, ultimately, a harmony of heart. He emphasized the importance of caring for and even loving our enemies. This does not negate the importance of governments providing protection for the innocent and dealing justice and punishment to the perpetrators of evil. It does, however, challenge us to seek every possible way to clear the lines of communication so that spiritual and ideological chasms can be overcome.
As a Baptist evangelist, I have been taught?as many other Protestant evangelicals have?that the Catholic Church falls short of "real" Christianity. While American Protestants and Catholics do not war outright, as they have in other parts of the world, we have, nevertheless, been trained to criticize or, at the very least, avoid them. But Protestants and Catholics should not be enemies. We are, as Boston College professor of philosophy Peter Kreeft so eloquently points out in his book, How to Win the Culture War, "separated brethren." He went on to say that we have addressed our disagreements "by consigning each others' bodies to graves on battlefields, and each others' souls to hell." Professing Christians have done such Christ-less things to their perceived enemies, that it has made it impossible for them to see the person they proclaim to be the way to God the Father.
This separation extends to all of mankind. East is separated from West. Muslim is separated from Jew. Black is separated from White. Democrat is separated from Republican.
People have fought, and even died, over such divisions. It is time we began living for constructive unity without compromising proven principles. The compromise related to forgiveness, open and honest dialogue, and the pursuit of healthy unity has been costly to all parties. Correct agreement is not be defined by sameness void of any differences, perspectives or views. Differences do not dispel unity. It is the division that must be destroyed through dialogue dedicated to peace, truth and healing.
America has always been a "melting pot" of races, religion and creed. At her finest moments, she has risen against the evils of the world, liberating the oppressed from tyrants and sharing her wealth with those in need. It is only when selfishness or corruption creeps into her heart that America becomes perverse and weak. To remain a bright light in history, principled unity must always remain a glorious pursuit.
Author: James Robison
Word Count: 635
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net