Friday, November 9, 2007

Understanding is Redemptive

Here's a little post I did connected with systems thinking which relates to our life together as church.

Unwillingness to listen, to reach a point of understanding is devaluing. Though tarnished by sin, people are still made in God’s image, behooving us to endeavor to understand their viewpoint. “Genuine engagement in the process of learning from and with others will require you to be ready to change ... for the good” (Brennan, 2002, p. 19).

Entering into dialogue, “with a spirit of inquiry and openness” (Sapp, 2002, p. 3) is crucial. Reaching a point of understanding was intrinsic to our ministry to Palestinian college students in the Holy Land. Sapp’s term, “suspending assumptions” as crucial to effective dialogue resonates with the friendship evangelism or incarnational model we followed. Rather than treating them as Arab terrorist heathens, we took interest in them and in their faith. Mutual respect and inquisitive learning about each other’s culture, language and faith resulted. “God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can” 1 Corinthians 12:1 (The Message).

Systems thinking, “looks at wholes, rather than parts” (Goodman), enabling better
understanding and communication. Western thinking is fragmented: our work life, church life, home life etc. Conversely, eastern peoples’ thinking is better integrated, more holistic, a powerful lesson.


Brennan, P. (2002, December). To Beginning Law Students. First Things, 19.

Goodman, M. (n.d.). Systems Thinking as a Language. The Systems Thinker, 2.

Holy Bible (2002). The Message. Colorado Springs, Co: Navpress.

Sapp, C. (2002). An Abridged Primer on Discourse: Discussion, Dialog, and

Productive Conflict. Unpublished paper, Regent University.

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