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Blessed are the peacemakers

How Christians can transcend division


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Here’s part of a Nov. 4 article from Breit­bart: “Democrats want to literally mask your children and then poison and defile them with racial hatred, gay-porn, anti-Americanism, and transsexual voodoo.” All Democrats, Breit­bart says, “champion and encourage deadly race riots at the hands of their own personal Brownshirts.”

Are you saying “Yeah!” to that screed? (It came with the customary photos of two black rioters atop a police car and a drag queen talking with a 2-year-old in the Brooklyn Public Library.) You may agree with me that the style is over-the-top, but do you agree with the content? If so, how does that fighting talk go with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount statement, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”?

Dutch journalist and theologian Abraham Kuyper in 1879 perceived danger on the left and founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Today in America, we need an Anti-Civil-War Party. The U.S. far left is offensive, but if all we do is react to it instead of developing Biblical alternatives that embrace grace rather than hate, we are at best clanging-cymbal reactionaries. At worst, the right may be as culpable as the left in bringing on civil war.

Let’s note a few reactionary tendencies and opportunities to transcend them. The issue of transgender use of bathrooms is still with us, but when it was hottest five years ago, a WORLD cover story asked about the costs of a potential “way of the future: the private restroom with a single toilet and a door that locks.”

We can have, and should strive for, peace regarding many lesser disputes.

One building consultant told our reporter that “his clients consistently chose unisex restrooms for their new constructions. When designing a multimillion-dollar project the cost difference between the two styles is minimal compared to the total cost of the project.” Individual-use restrooms maximize the opportunity for peace between otherwise-warring factions.

Take education, please—the biggest polarizing issue in the recent Virginia election, but not so big an issue in Texas. Maybe that’s because more than 300,000 Texas children go to more than 700 public charter schools, and getting one started isn’t onerous. Virginia, though, has only eight charter schools serving a total of only 1,200 or so students.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools says, “While Virginia’s law does not contain a cap on public charter school growth, it allows only district authorizers and provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability, and inequitable funding. Virginia’s law needs improvement across the board.” I still want to see more Christian schools, and tax credits to help parents pay for them, but public charter schools can lead to both better education and community peace.

Don’t take pornography, please, but Christians have sometimes worked alongside secular feminists in the effort to protect young people especially. When we don’t turn opponents into enemies, opportunities for understanding and even friendship may arise.

It’s important for Christians to remember that the political spectrum is not a straight line, so we should not look at everything in right vs. left terms. It’s more like a horseshoe, as David French and others have noted, with the ends bending toward each other so the far left and the far right aren’t far apart.

A few issues—abortion is the most prominent—do not lend themselves to compromise. We can pray that God will change hearts, the Supreme Court will allow individual states to decide, and the provision of compassionate services will save lives. We can have, and should strive for, peace regarding many lesser disputes.

And that includes peace at WORLD. You may have noted Mindy Belz’s resignation column a month ago and Sophia Lee’s in this issue. I’m sticking around to help with our Roe v. Wade special issue in January, then leaving. We believe WORLD Opinions is pointing WORLD in the wrong direction, but this magazine is still publishing excellent stories. My academic and editorial work have always been separate, so I plan to continue as dean of the World Journalism Institute, training Christian would-be journalists not what to think but how to think.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.

@MarvinOlasky

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FIMIKI

Thank you Marvin for all you've done to combat the divisiveness and lack of trust that's permeated the journalism landscape. For me, your name and work will always be synonymous with "compassionate conservatism" and I've always appreciated WORLD's earnest, thoughtful approach to tackling issues that modern conservatives either neglect or consider to be liberal trojan horses. I had hoped that the new Opinions section would continue with that perspective and tone and draw people to the hard reporting that WORLD does so well, and it's been very saddening to see you and others leaving due to your concerns about the problematic incentives generated by hosting such potentially polemic content.

As an aside, I saw that World News Group was recently added to the Ad Fontes Media bias chart. Unfortunately only one magazine article (Sophia's report on Bethlehem Baptist Church's divisions) was included in the collection they reviewed, but it scored the highest in terms of reliability and lack of bias - a testament to the rigor and reliability of WORLD's reporting. May that never change!

https://adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart/

Laura W

Are all the people I respect and trust most leaving?

Salty1

It is interesting watching Mr. Olasky claim to be a “peacemaker” while he vilifies World for adding in an opinion section and pushing the notion that having a greater diversity of thought at World somehow makes them not peacemakers. At the same time he holds up the reporters leaving as evidence that World are not peacemakers. If Marvin is a peacemaker should he not be encouraging these reporters to stay and work under this greater diversity of thought?

In essence Marvin is saying that those who don’t hold to his rigid doctrine on politics, don’t have a legitimate voice in the discussion and should be silenced. How exactly is this position being a “peacemaker”?

Being in opposition to Marvin’s opinions on politics, I find his position to be unhelpful in allowing the church to defend our interests of living quietly in our culture bringing the gospel to our communities. If we ignore the true intentions of the enemies of the church, and play along with their propaganda, then we become partners in our own demise.

Marvin’s message doesn’t help the church so I and others will fight against his bad ideas. I do think World Magazine should allow diversity of thought and allow a reasoned discussion on the topic of politics and how Christians should respond. Today the church is confused and divided on the issue of politics and how we should respond, so this open discussion is needed for the benefit of the Christian church.

Meg ISalty1

Also, in the Olasky/Mohler interview of a few years ago, it sure seemed like they were great friends and on the same page about most issues. I could have “sworn” that Olasky highly respected Dr. Mohler and his views because they line up with the “only plumb line,” the Word of God. I hope Olasky is not changing his plumb line.

Salty1Meg I

I sure hope there is no divide between the two men. I respect both but I have seen Mr. Olasky go off on tangents which I felt were not biblical. I have tried to speak (write) rationally, biblically and clearly when I thought his thinking was off based.

I sure hope Mr. Olasky sees me speaking honestly as a friend. Your real friends will tell you the truth when you don’t want to hear it. Certainly, there is diversity of thought between Christians and we need to show grace with each other when we disagree. When I get to heaven I am sure God will set me straight on some ideas that I have wrong. At the end of the day, we need to say, brother/sister, I may not agree with you on X but we are family in Christ so I love you!

Meg ISalty1

Mr. Olasky is still on the same page with the primary issues. This is of course, of #1 importance. Right now I tend to find myself looking to Dr. Mohler, Carl Trueman and Dr. Neil Shenvi for issues that are tied into solid Biblical truth. The field gets narrower and narrower. Also, Kevin DeYoung is first and foremost a pastor/professor but you can “take to the bank” what he writes too.

DavidSalty1

To suggest that Mr. Olasky's column "vilifies" WORLD is a disappointing exaggeration. Then to add "In essence Marvin is saying that those who don’t hold to his rigid doctrine on politics, don’t have a legitimate voice in the discussion and should be silenced" is simply an ignorant, unfair twisting of his words.
In a comment below Mrs. Belz resignation column, this reader offered: "Forgive me for in my zeal sometimes I have lacked love and been hard on you and others." I am saddened to see that lack and hardness so freely continued against Mr. Olasky.

Salty1David

I think Mr. Olasky is big enough to take the criticism. Maybe my word choice wasn’t perfect but I do think his comments were a jab at the board of directors for deciding to move forward with an Opinion Column. Also, his jab at Breitbart was uncalled for and shows he was dividing and taking a side on the division in the church about politics. So Mr. Olasky’s claim to be a peacemaker rings rather hollow when everything he is doing is dividing and taking sides on these issues. Both Mindy and Sofia wrote nice articles stating they were leaving, but Mr. Olasky brought them into his fold of division claiming they were leaving due to the Opinion Column. If Mindy and Sofia intended to be included in this revolution against the Opinion Column, then it should be noted that Mr. Olasky and his fellow revolutionaries (I say this half tongue in cheek - since when did Opinion Columns become such divisive issues?) are the ones dividing. Again, is this being peacemakers?

I believe that adding in an Opinion Column will allow in greater diversity of thought about the great divide seen in politics held by different Christians. Having rational dialogue on these issues, will actually fulfill being a peacemaker by letting light shine on these issues as we filter it against God’s word. I wish the new opinion editor well in his new job of bringing in a diversity of opinion and I pray it will lead to more biblical thinking in regards to politics and the Christian’s response to it.

Meg I

My favorite part of World Mag is OPINIONS. Thankful that it is here. Now I just hope that things like movie reviews and TV program reviews will be on the way out. We want to read and think critically and many who read this magazine don’t see the need in putting trash before their eyes to “better understand” the culture (ridiculous TV shows and movies), Marvin, your run has been long and thank you for hanging in there. Enjoy retirement.

RKIM8631

The resignations should serve as a reminder that it is hard to have compassion for those you treat as enemies. I have tried to live as Olasky has noted above. If you are seeking those in the Great Commission, you have to be willing to work with them, live at peace as are as it depends on you, love them (yes, even our enemies) sacrifice for them. Holding to the truth does not mean being strident, violent, anxious, impatient, undisciplined, unforgiving. Regardless of political views, we are one Body in Christ, and we are to be living sacrifices in a world that encourages us more nowadays to protect ourselves at the sacrifice of the Gospel. None of us are perfect, but our goal is to obey God in humility, love God with all our being AND love our neighbor as ourselves.
I hope that this exodus is a wake up call for World and the readers.

KHOV3984

So much to consider...I appreciate all the insightful comments by readers, as well as by World's staff. I wonder whether there is room for honest diversity within the staff of World so that such diversity would not result in resignations. It is interesting to me that the addition of "Opinions" has caused such divisiveness. Perhaps we need to remember the meaning of the word..."Opinion"...rather than take the column as a stated position of this magazine. I would pray and hope that there would be a bit more room for such diversity. I highly value what all the staff has done and is committed to continue doing. May the LORD be glorified. As God said to Habbakuk: "...I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told..." (1:5b)

Steve S

Great points! I wish Dr. Mohler had read this column before declaring that World Opinions would just be about 'authentic conservatism'.

Tom Hanrahan

Amen, brother, Amen.
Case in point in my life: our pastor works with some community groups; ethics, troubled youth, policing. *Most* of the people he works with are culturally far away from the Bible, and aligned much with the far left. But he works with them to bring about good for the community.

joansredpen

It was a gut punch when Mindy Belz announced her resignation. Today, we're hit with two more blows--losing you and Sophia Lee. I haven't had time to read World Opinions. I suppose I ought to take a look to learn what is driving my favorite writers and editors away from World. After nearly two decades as a World subscriber, I feel like I'm losing close friends. So sad.

SHAR2407

I fully agree that World Opinions is POINTING World in the wrong direction. Please keep the focus on truth and not opinions. Your reporting has always brought depth and breath to different areas.......PLEASE don't let World stay on this path.
This article by Marvin Olasky is what we need to hear as we are called to be peacemakers.

BBAU8755

Thank you for this Biblically grounded message about how we can live out peacemaking in our modern culture. Our battle is not against flesh and blood and our neighbors cannot feel our love when we are engaged with them in battle over social issues. I pray that World Magazine will heed this wise advice and look to present the news to Christians in a way that encourages us to peacemakers. I hope Marvin Olasky continues writing as he is a voice we desperately need to hear in this dangerously divided time in our country.