Reading over at the BHT led me to this article in The Christian Century by Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Quite a conversation broke out after the posting of the link to this piece. For some time I have been convinced we do not hear what it said in many controversial conversations. For example, I was reading the other day and the writer summarily dismissed someone for "sounding" like they had read Barth. Rather than listen to what is said and engage the person on conversation the accuser dismissed his would be conversation partner out of hand. I felt this way when my friend Spencer attempted a conversation with D.A. Carson over Carson’s remarks in Becoming Conversant with Emergent.
We tend to process what we hear in ways that work within the bounds of our own categories. So as Mouw’s piece attempts to point out it may be we do have significant disagreements, but it sure helps to be sure we are talking about the same thing. Evidently Mouw got the picture even clearer when those who read the piece began to take him apart over its assertion. He wades back in to clarify with another illustration. I appreciated the attempt to help paint an even clearer picture. I was left thinking we too often listen past each other and that keeps us talking past each other. Maybe we can be like the two ministers at the end of the illustration. We may still disagree but at least we will disagree about the same subjects rather than talking about different things because our "buttons" were pushed over a given topic.