Five Words That Could Save the Church

Five words could prevent the public brawls between Christians who differ in their opinions on social and theological issues.

“…but I might be wrong.”

Pepper an impassioned debate with those five words with someone you’ve previously denounced as a heretic or traitor to the cause and an amazing thing happens.

It tells your “opponent” on the other side of the issue that you care more about the mutual pursuit of truth rather than in placing another check in your camp’s win column. It communicates that maintaining Christian unity despite your differences is more important to you than scoring points and dancing in your “opponent’s” end-zone.

Who knows, if spoken with a true spirit of humility, something close to civility might break out and confused onlookers might believe Christian leaders are different than the shrill ideologues they see on cable news every night.

“…but I might be wrong.”

It would be disingenuous if we attached these words to the end of every sentence. We all have spiritual and moral convictions we believe are non-negotiable, but can’t the humility associated with those five words define the tone of our dialog?

My friend Jim Wallis of Sojourners is an exemplar of someone who practices this gracious approach to public discourse. He brings together Christians who lean both left and right to work together on poverty and caring for creation. In areas of agreement, he builds on common ground. In areas of disagreement, both he and his colleagues offer grace in the spirit of… “but I might be wrong.”

Today I’m following St. Paul’s advice “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

It’s hard to argue against that position unless you’re certain that my decision to use the NIV translation of this passage proves I’m a heretic and that I should be publicly disgraced for it.

Ian Morgan Cron served for ten years as the Founding and Senior Pastor of Trinity Church in Greenwich, Conn., a non-denominational community committed to social justice as well as to communicating the Christian story through the arts. He is the author of "Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale." His latest book “Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me: A Memoir…of Sorts” (Thomas Nelson) will be released on June 7. Follow him on Twitter @iancron For more visit his website: