Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing Without Dividing the Church by Tim Muehlhoff and Richard Langer provides readers with a way to analyze conviction and acknowledge differences of opinion even on deeply held beliefs without causing undue division.
The book is divided into three sections. The first provides biblical foundations for analyzing conviction, along with several historical examples. The second section discusses how to communicate convictions, including questions about division and divisiveness, fellowship, echo chambers, and more. The third section provides five chapters on how to discuss convictions–even differing ones–in a more winsome way.
I especially enjoyed the authors using historical examples to highlight some of the problems we still face today regarding convictions. The first chapter, a “historical prelude,” used the example of Roger Williams and the formation of New England with its history of religious freedom. It’s fascinating to see how, historically, some of the people most concerned with separating church and state were those who had the most deeply held religious convictions. More recent examples, such as religious symbolism in the crest of a city, help to bring these discussions into modern light. This chapter alone makes the book well-worth reading, because it sets up a way to look at some neutral examples in history and other places and to use them in discussing convictions in one’s own setting.
The final five chapters on applying what the authors have case studies, such as differing opinions on how to read the book of Genesis, intermixed with advice on how to hold to sincere convictions while still maintaining unity in church. The book is therefore a valuable resource for those seeking to unite while allowing for significant disagreements. Not only that, it also provides a way forward in understanding how people with similar background ideologies may differ significantly on what seem like basic issues.
Winsome Conviction would make an excellent group read for churches, especially those looking to welcome people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
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