Yes, Being Gracious Does Make A Difference


Last week was interesting. I corrected a scholar for misrepresenting the title of one of my books and was also corrected by another scholar for a flawed illustration. Why did truth and civility prevail in both exchanges? Let me explain.

Correcting Another

A well-known scholar misrepresented the title of a book of mine in his recent publication. Since his critique was public, I wrote a blog response and sent it to him personally with the aim of being as gracious as I could be. Because he is both kind and secure, he emailed me back and admitted the miscalculation. The exchange was mutually respectful, and he even invited me to join him for coffee next time I travel to the east coast.

Being Corrected

Also last week, a philosopher emailed me a thoughtful critique of an illustration I used in a recent public talk. He opened the by finding common ground, commending me for my positive points, and then offered an insightful critique of my illustration in a gracious manner. I emailed back for some clarification, and then as I thought about it, I realized he was right. The good news is that we’re set to have lunch later this week and explore the issue further.

I have been thinking about these experiences over the past couple weeks. Why were they both successful? Why did these exchanges lead to a deeper grasp of truth and the building of relationships? The answer is simple: We treated each other respectfully and showed grace amidst disagreement.

Amazingly, few people today seem to grasp this truth. We are too busy yelling at each other on social media. While it may feel good to “get” someone on Twitter, does it really lead to good? Are minds really changed? I can imagine the Apostle Paul saying, “Absolutely not!”

Unsuccessful Communication

Here is the kind of communication that might feel good, and get a “thumbs up” from your tribe, but ultimately persuades few (if any):

  • Tell someone how they should think
  • Call someone names.
  • Preach at people.
  • Mock someone

Successful Communication

On the other hand, if you really want to influence people on social media, then I suggest a different tack. Rather than telling someone how they should believe, simply ask questions about why they believe as they do. Rather than mock people, treat them charitably as human beings. Rather than preach at people, invite them to consider a different perspective.

If people are not persuaded when you treat them kindly, they likely will not be persuaded at all. And even if they are not persuaded, you still treated them as valuable people made in the image of God. Mission accomplished.

Remember Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

If you just want to incite argument, then keep insulting people, preaching at them, and telling them how they should think. But if you want to genuinely influence people, try being gracious. After all, it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Comment at:

Do Gospel Writers Intentionally Include Contradictions? Yes!

Are the Parables of Jesus Authentic?

Jesus told some of the most famous parables in world history. Whether it is the parable of the prodigal son, the sower, or the good Samaritan, Jesus is commonly known as a storyteller.

But besides tradition, what reason to we have to believe Jesus actually told parables? How do we know the parables attributed to Jesus genuinely trace back to him?

Considerable debate is spent examining the passages in which Jesus claims to be God. My father and I have an extensive chapter on this issue in the revised Evidence that Demands a Verdict. But less ink is often spent defending the authenticity of the parables of Jesus.

Since the Synoptic Gospels report over forty parables, which contain some of Jesus’ most memorable and powerful teachings, it is also vital to consider the historical evidence they actually trace back to Jesus.

More to read at:

Do Gospel Writers Intentionally Include Contradictions?

Does Truth and Evidence Even Matter to this New Generation?

4 Misconceptions about Resurrection…and the Truth

Heretic: Review of the Newest Book on Intelligent Design

7 Fascinating Facts that Make the Bible Unique

Can Science Explain Morality?

What Does It Mean to “Love Thy Body”? Interview with Author Nancy Pearcey

by Sean McDowell


Today is the release of one of the most important books this year on Christianity and cultural engagement: Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, by Nancy Pearcey. Since co-writing How Now Shall We Live? with Chuck Colson, Pearcey has been one of the most important voices vying for the development and application of a Christian worldview to all of life. She is a professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University and a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Her newest book is so timely and insightful that I am using it as a text for a high school class that I teach. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

SEAN MCDOWELL: In the introduction to Love Thy Body, you discuss the fact/value split. Can you explain what you mean by that and how secular thought today assumes a body/person split?

NANCY PEARCEY: After the rise of modern science, many people decided that the only reliable knowledge is empirical facts. Things like morality and theology were reduced to private, subjective preferences—personal values. We can visualize the fact/value split using the image of two stories in a building: In the lower story are objective facts; in the upper story are subjective values.

The fact/value split is one of the greatest barriers to presenting Christian truth today, and it’s the topic of my book Total Truth. In Love Thy Body, I show how the same split affects issues like abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the hookup culture.

Take abortion. Many bioethicists argue that the fetus is human from conception, but we do not grant it legal protection until we decide it has become a person. Until then, it is just a disposable piece of matter that can be killed for any reason or no reason. It can be used for research, tinkered with genetically, harvested for organs, then disposed of with the other medical waste.

This is called personhood theory, and you can see how it is an outworking of the fact/value split. Using our two-story metaphor, to be biologically human is a scientific fact (lower story). But to be a person is an ethical concept, defined by what we value (upper story).

The change from a piece of matter to a person with inviolable rights is a momentous change. Yet there is no transformative point that science can detect objectively. As a result, in secular ethics, the definition of personhood is private, subjective, and arbitrary—like other personal values.

MCDOWELL: How does the body/person split lie at the heart of other issues like euthanasia?