Is Balanced Thinking A Virtue?

I stumbled across a comment I wrote elsewhere some time ago, that another blogger thought was profound, and thought, what the heck, I should see if it connects with any of you. It's about balance and extremism in ethics, with reference to fundamentalism and liberalism and more authentic ways of being Christian. I wrote:

I think there is a basic failure to understand that the equal and opposite of one evil can often be an equal and opposite evil. Balance is not considered and found too hard, it is often not even considered in the first place. Many seem to operate under what I call “the myth of the slippery slope”, a way of seeing the world that leads them to suspect that anything half between two extremes is half way to hell, a myth which reinforces that anything less than extremism is compromise. But what if we operated under a different story, the story of the life giving well in the middle of the desert, one which draws people in from extremist positions? Consider what the world would be like if liberal Christians could sit down at the table with conservative Christians and say, look I am really, really concerned for the rights of gays but I agree with you that a position which tosses the New Testament out the window cannot reasonably be called Christian and I part company from the religious syncretists that do. Looky, I think you need to be more compassionate and we’ll disagree on many things but I agree there are outer limits to what can be considered Christian dialogue. Consider also if conservatives could say, look I think you’re too flaky but i agree that hate mongers distort the truth as much as syncretists, yeah lets set some outer limits to what can be called Christian dialogue. This is exactly what the Athenasian creed did in terms of Christology, I think we need something similar in terms of sex theology, an agreement on outer limits in both directions.

So, what about you?

6 thoughts on “Is Balanced Thinking A Virtue?

  1. We ought to be extreme and balanced. Lots of love, love of grace, lots of truth.
    I just read George Verwer’s Out of the Comfort Zone. He advocates being extreme about God’s mission and being balanced about every aspect of it and full of grace towards those who do things differently.
    Another idea is that we hold ourselves to higher standards than we do others.


  2. Yeah balanced thinking must be a virtue but there is only one major setback No one is truly balanced although many make attempts to be. I would rather have nutters hellbent on their doctrine at times because one knows what one is dealing with… Sometimes when people try too hard to be reasonable it shits me… because it is contrived and they are attempting to mask their true thoughts There is only one thing that i have found the majority of Christians totally agree on – that Jesus is who he said he is. The rest? well the rest makes me worry abit at times about Heaven I don’t wanna see many of the Christians i have encountered in realville in Heaven Now that would be Hell if i did hehe “Fvck off” usually works a treat tho when the nutters get too much


  3. Mary… maybe you dislike inauthenticity, (or being a bit of a smart arse) rather than wisdom? Jesus often avoided “taking sides” and spoke in paradoxical terms… but he was totally authentic and full of wisdom.
    “Noone is truly balanced”… of course, but that doesn’t mean we aspire to extremism!


  4. I like that summary Matt!
    “because it is contrived and they are attempting to mask their true thoughts” was the cue for me. I would be being authentic if I said I reject both 6 day literal creationism and athiestic evolution… but felt unable to be precise about exactly how God created. I’m not trying to avoid saying what I think… it’s just that I’m genuinely open to possibilities about how interventionist God was, and how long it took God to create life… just to pluck out one example. I’m not trying to “mask my true thoughts”… these ARE my true thoughts. Does that make sense? I just don’t feel like I need everything about God’s activity nailed down into neat little boxes. Mystery is part of the deal for me.


  5. I find it is important to have clarity on the essentials but not so important on the peripherals. In the case of the homosexuality debate, its important to recognise that the authority of scripture (truth) and our call to Christlike compassion (love) are both essential if our response is to be authentically Christian, but it is not as important to have every question nailed down.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s