Cordial Disagreement is the Highest Honor

Honoring Others with Disagreement I was recently reading Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, which consists of twenty-two scholarly articles written in response to the publication of Kenton Sparks’s work God’s Word in Human Words. The author of each article responds to at least one of the challenges Sparks has raised about the reliability of the biblical narrative.In the foreword, John Woodbridge writes, “The authors of Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? address in a straightforward manner the challenges Sparks offers to the trustworthiness of the Bible’s historical narratives. They honor Sparks’s scholarship by taking his proposal seriously.”[1]Did you catch that? Rather than considering disagreement disrespectful (or hateful), the writers believe they are actually honoring him by taking his ideas seriously and offering thoughtful responses, and yet doing so with generosity. Whether they succeed or not is beside the point. The point is that they show honor to Sparks by cordially engaging his ideas. After all, ideas do have consequences.When I read this I thought—yes, yes, YES! This is exactly what we need today—people willing to seriously wrestle with important issues of our day because they realize that ideas matter and that cordial disagreement shows honor to those with different views.If I were Sparks, I would be honored that so many people thought my ideas were worthy of their time, focus, and energy. I wouldn’t be upset. I would be thrilled. That’s why I love it when people offer me thoughtful responses to my ideas. If I were wrong, shouldn’t I want to change my views and seek the truth? Shouldn’t you?

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