By Sonya Downing, Carson Jacobs and Tim Pietz | Contributors
I'm a "conservative," though that's a dumb word. It's a word that puts crucial biblical truths on par with a wall across the Mexican border. It's a word that squeezes the American Dream somewhere into the Great Commission. It's a word that conservatives on campus should redefine.
Thanks to Excalibur, campus has erupted with opinions on "conservatism." As conservatives, but more importantly, as Christians, my co-writers and I want to refocus the debate Excalibur started.
Excalibur's faults are not lost on us.
- It approached sensitive subjects in an intellectual but vague way
- It caused confusion and anger through its tone
- It had questionable distribution choices (possible targeting of certain students)
- It perpetuated a false dichotomy of "conservatives" and "liberals"
So, what are Excalibur's core concepts? The most important one is the Imago Dei, a biblical belief that happens to make us fit in the "conservative" box more than the "liberal" one. Among other things, we are . . .
- Against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
- Believers in young earth creationism
- Opposed to calling animals equal to humans in value
- Duty-bound to help the poor and disabled
Some things, though we may not like hearing them, are true. If we want to be better Christians, we must always be open to the Bible. That goes for liberals, conservatives and everyone else. It's dangerous to only take the things you agree with and leave the rest. As St. Augustine said, "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it's not the gospel you believe, but yourself."
Comparing ideas to Scripture requires understanding them first. Unfortunately, the actual ideas Excalibur expressed have been largely ignored in favor of attacking their methodology. This has accomplished nothing, and we believe the student body needs to shift into constructive discussion.
Jakob Miller, a professor in Taylor's political science department, agrees. "Perhaps the most worrying (reaction on campus) is the lack of intellectual argument and engagement, from all sides. The newsletter rapidly seemed to become a focus for group conflict, rather than a spark to discuss the ideas in it."
Zack Carter, a Taylor communication professor, says, "I believe this conversation is needed, and there's a way to communicate with grace, to come to the table, both sides, not with animosity." What is that way? Thomas Jones, the chair of Taylor's history, global and political studies department, believes we must begin conversations by "see(ing) those with whom we are speaking as persons who are loved deeply by God." This is hard to do in a fallen world, but we won't progress unless we do.
Okay, that's a good start, but what next? Miller explains that, before we say anything, we should ask ourselves why we're saying it - i.e. whether our intentions are selfish or not. By doing so, we can hurt less and heal more.
What if Taylor students prayerfully engaged with those they disagree with? What if we started two-way conversations, rather than one-way cries of frustration? What if all Christians lifted the sword of the Spirit together, rather than pointing Excalibur at each other?
The reason Excalibur hid underground was fear. The reason many reacted so strongly to it was fear. Second Timothy 1:7 states ". . . God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." Let's show that.