In the first two parts of our conversation with Dr. Curt Thompson, we discussed why it is important to have “embodied encounters” with our civic systems and our political opponents, and what Good Friday can teach us about dealing with the challenges those encounters present. In this third part of our interview, Dr. Thompson gets into what Christian eschatology means for our attempts to deal with political diversity in the church.
The Christian Civics Podcast explores how the gospel empowers us to think, speak and act differently in the public square.
In This Episode
23:10–25:53 Practicing for heaven
25:54–27:20 Light to the World
29:15–31:49 Further reading, upcoming episodes, bonus episode
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I tell people, I didn’t want to marry Phyllis, my wife, of thirty-one years, I wanted to marry a more attractive version of Curt, that’s who I really wanted to marry. I wanted to marry me, but in a more beautiful body, that’s who I wanted to marry. I didn’t really want to marry someone who, it turns out, is radically different from me in some respects. And yet God has made us in such a way that in order for us to see what real joy is like, we’re going to have to be with people with whom we have radical differences. And there’s no one who has more radical differences than God and man. And in some respects this is what God makes us, and now He’s radically different and chooses to have a relationship with us, and then says to us “I want you to do the same, I want you to live like we live, the Godhead lives, let us make mankind in our image.”
And so, this sense of motivated reasoning begins, I think, with the presumption that I want to be with people who are like me and what the Gospel, I think, invites us to consider is like, I want to wake up in the morning and ask the question, “Who are the people that I’m going to run into, who can I be looking for?” Not just who might I accidentally run into, but who can I be looking for with intention, with whom I have great difference, and set out to make contact, set out to be embodied love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control in that particular relationship, on purpose, and in so doing, in making that contact, by definition, will help prevent me from starting from this position of motivated reasoning, which the book kind of highlights, such that we’re not left to drift in an automatized way, not paying attention to how my old story, my old narrative and my old attachments are just like the tide, taking me out, without my being consciously aware that this is what’s taking place.
RICK: Alright, we’re back. Thanks for sticking with us. I know it was a longer stretch between episodes than anyone wanted, but I hope it was worth the wait. Before we get into prayer together, I want to take a couple minutes to take a look at one more idea from this interview and one action idea that Dr. Thompson suggested off of it.
Now the action item. The interview ended with Dr. Thompson offering a suggestion for how to start practicing for heaven when it comes to our relationships in the church with our political opponents. He suggested meeting regularly to practice having these conversations, and I want to make sure you’re all aware of a resource that we offer that can help with that.
If you’re looking for a way to start practicing these conversations in ways that you can be sure won’t just spin out into anger or arguments or name-calling, a way to actually help ground you and your friends or you and your small group members in the Gospel as you start having these embodied encounters across partisan divides, then I think the place to start is probably going to be with our first Bible study guide, Light the World. It follows the story of Creation, Fall, Restoration, and Incarnation, and guides you all through a conversation on how each chapter of that story changes the way you respond to politics and political campaigns, no matter what political ideologies you hold or sympathize with. It can give a group of Christians who have never voted the same way as one another a shared vocabulary for talking about politics and government and it can help establish a baseline of trust so that you can start practicing for heaven in these relationships more confidently.