counter create hit Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World

Availability: Ready to download

Can Christians act like Christians even when they disagree? In these wild and diverse times, right and left battle over the airwaves, prolifers square off against prochoicers, gay liberationists confront champions of the traditional family, artists and legislators tangle, even Christians fight other Christians whose doctrines aren't "just so." Richard Mouw has been activel Can Christians act like Christians even when they disagree? In these wild and diverse times, right and left battle over the airwaves, prolifers square off against prochoicers, gay liberationists confront champions of the traditional family, artists and legislators tangle, even Christians fight other Christians whose doctrines aren't "just so." Richard Mouw has been actively forging a model of Christian civil conversation with those we might disagree with--atheists, Muslims, gay activists and more. He is concerned that, too often, Christians have contributed more to the problem than to the solution. But he recognizes--from his dialogues with those from many perspectives--that it's not easy to hold to Christian convictions and treat sometimes vindictive opponents with civility and decency. Few if any people in the evangelical world have conversed as widely and sensitively as Mouw. So few can write more wisely or helpfully than Mouw does here about what Christians can appreciate about pluralism, the theological basis for civility, and how we can communicate with people who disagree with us on the issues that matter most.


Compare
Ads Banner

Can Christians act like Christians even when they disagree? In these wild and diverse times, right and left battle over the airwaves, prolifers square off against prochoicers, gay liberationists confront champions of the traditional family, artists and legislators tangle, even Christians fight other Christians whose doctrines aren't "just so." Richard Mouw has been activel Can Christians act like Christians even when they disagree? In these wild and diverse times, right and left battle over the airwaves, prolifers square off against prochoicers, gay liberationists confront champions of the traditional family, artists and legislators tangle, even Christians fight other Christians whose doctrines aren't "just so." Richard Mouw has been actively forging a model of Christian civil conversation with those we might disagree with--atheists, Muslims, gay activists and more. He is concerned that, too often, Christians have contributed more to the problem than to the solution. But he recognizes--from his dialogues with those from many perspectives--that it's not easy to hold to Christian convictions and treat sometimes vindictive opponents with civility and decency. Few if any people in the evangelical world have conversed as widely and sensitively as Mouw. So few can write more wisely or helpfully than Mouw does here about what Christians can appreciate about pluralism, the theological basis for civility, and how we can communicate with people who disagree with us on the issues that matter most.

30 review for Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World

  1. 5 out of 5

    M Christopher

    This is a book that I recommend for ALL people of faith, especially Christians. Especially Christians because it is written for us by a leading Christian scholar. For all people of faith because we all so badly need to be reminded of how decency and civility are woven into the callings of our faiths. Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Seminary, has taken as his topic the failure of civil society to be, well, civil. Like so many of us, he mourns the way in which political and religious dialogue This is a book that I recommend for ALL people of faith, especially Christians. Especially Christians because it is written for us by a leading Christian scholar. For all people of faith because we all so badly need to be reminded of how decency and civility are woven into the callings of our faiths. Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Seminary, has taken as his topic the failure of civil society to be, well, civil. Like so many of us, he mourns the way in which political and religious dialogue has turned into diatribe. He quotes Martin Marty, who said that the problem with today's society is that too often "civil people lack strong convictions and people of strong convictions lack civility." Mouw calls for careful hearing and careful speaking -- not a center-less "anything goes," but a "convicted civility" in which people both hold strong beliefs and honor the beliefs of others by pursuing Shalom. There are many things that Mouw says in this book that I disagree with. That is part of the point. He is unashamed of his principles as I am of mine. What he and I both hold up is both the possibility and the crucial importance of disagreeing with civility and decency. I would be honored to argue with him about our points of divergence because I could rest easy in the knowledge that we have a far more important point of convergence; namely, the love of Christ. A fine book by a deeply thoughtful man of good will.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short review: For all of the scriptural injunctions about loving your enemy and 'do to others...' Christians can be quite uncivil with people with whom they disagree. Mouw has the best book I have found so far about the how and why of being civil with those whom with disagree. This is not a 'be nice' book. It is a book that encourages strong beliefs, but also a high level of civil dialogue. It is mostly about being civil with non-Christians, but also has some good discussion about how to be civi Short review: For all of the scriptural injunctions about loving your enemy and 'do to others...' Christians can be quite uncivil with people with whom they disagree. Mouw has the best book I have found so far about the how and why of being civil with those whom with disagree. This is not a 'be nice' book. It is a book that encourages strong beliefs, but also a high level of civil dialogue. It is mostly about being civil with non-Christians, but also has some good discussion about how to be civil with other Christians with whom you disagree. This is an important topic, I wish there were more focus on it. The full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/decency-mouw/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Clegg

    This book was convicted and has softened my black and white mentality to a degree. I recommend it to all Christians passionate for the truth. I hoped for more Scriptural and theological backing for his points. At times Mouw flirts with theological pluralism but to a degree he recognizes a need to stand strong for convictions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steven May

    Good concepts for Christians to live by. I struggle with the text but believed Richard Mouw message was on target.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Hocking

    Amazing book....I recommend it heartily.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Hiemstra

    Our society has become much more diverse. Measured in terms of race, the number of non-Hispanic whites has fallen from roughly 84 percent in 1965 to 62 percent in 2015 [1]. Among children under the age of 20, the trend is even more pronounced. Stated in terms of perspectives, we are more likely today to meet someone with a different cultural background and point of view than at any time since the Second World War [2]. Rodney King’s 1992 question: “Can we all get along?” remains a serious questio Our society has become much more diverse. Measured in terms of race, the number of non-Hispanic whites has fallen from roughly 84 percent in 1965 to 62 percent in 2015 [1]. Among children under the age of 20, the trend is even more pronounced. Stated in terms of perspectives, we are more likely today to meet someone with a different cultural background and point of view than at any time since the Second World War [2]. Rodney King’s 1992 question: “Can we all get along?” remains a serious question for everyone, but especially Christians who are supposed to model the love of Christ to those around them [3]. In his book, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, Christian ethicist Richard Mouw attempts to address Rodney King’s question. Mouw defines civility as: “public politeness” where “we display tact, moderation, refinement and good manners towards people who are different from us” (14). He further observes: “being civil is a way of becoming more like what God intends for us to be.” (15) Importantly, he stresses that we do not have to approve of other people’s views (22) or to like them (24), but only to recognize their inherent right to express their views and to listen to them. Mouw tells the story about a “crusty old Irish Catholic judge” whose days were filled with judging inner-city criminals. One day this judge had a what-would-Jesus-do (WWJD) moment just as he was about to give a tough sentence another street tough kid. He started to see this kid as a divine image bearer and in terms of his potential, not the person who he currently appeared to be (24-25). Suddenly, this judge had a completely new attitude about his job and started having good conversation with these street kids. In Mouw’s words, the judge starting seeing “every human being a work of divine art” (26). The story of the judge is essentially our story as we live day by day under the gaze of our ever-present God. Mouw reminds us that: “God is always watching listening, some words are so offensive to God that they should never be uttered.” (46) Two examples that Mouw offers are racist language (46) and a crusading mentality. Racist language is offensive to God because each of us in our diversity reflect the divine image. A crusading mentality forgets God's enduring love of the people whom he created. Mouw defines a crusader as: “people who think the cause they are fighting for is so important that they must use all means at their disposal to win.” (50). Using all or nothing rhetoric feeds this crusading attitude (53). The term, divine gaze, is both novel and familiar. Mouw cites a familiar passage in Psalm 139 as an example of the divine gaze: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24) This example of the divine gaze follows what appears to be the psalmist's reminder to himself to hedge his own crusading spirit: “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.” (Ps 139:21-22) Would that we were all so self-aware and God-aware! Having had to confront the question of the Vietnam as a young man, I was intrigued by Mouw’s use of “just war” theory to develop guidelines for public discourse without incivility. These guidelines take the form of questions to consider in sorting through such discourse, including: 1. Is my cause a just one? 2. Am I sustained in my commitments by the wisdom of competent authorities? 3. Are my motives proper? 4. Is my move beyond mere civility a choice of last resort? 5. Is success likely? 6. Are the means I am employing proportionate to the good goals I want to promote? (142-46) Mouw notes that Martin Luther’s stand against the Catholic church during the early days of the reformation was not an example of a lone crusade. As a scholar and theologian, Luther was well-informed of short-comings of the church and sought advice from many mentors (143). He further noted that Augustine, in arguing the case for a just war, was concerned that prisoners be treated humanely and that the rights of civilians be respected (146). Augustine certainly was not just another apologist for a Roman war policy. At the time of publication, Richard J. Mouw was president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, professor of Christian Philosophy, and the author of many books. He is currently a Professor of Faith and Public Life at the seminary [4]. He writes in 14 chapters preceded by an introduction and followed by an epilogue and notes. In view of the wide range of topics covered, a brief review is inadequate to survey all the topics covered. Nevertheless, Mouw’s Uncommon Decency is both accessible and a good read. I suspect, however, that more than one read is needed to absorb all that he has to offer. While I believe that most Christians would benefit from studying this book and would hope that journalists would take an interest, I suspect that seminary students and pastors are the intended audience. [1] Pew Research Center. 2015. “Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S., Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065.” Cited: 7 January 2015. Online: http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2015.... [2] Is it any wonder that millennials and boomers differ so dramatically? For boomers, the world was entirely different; for millennials, this is the only world that they have ever known. [3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONf.... [4] http://fuller.edu/faculty/rmouw.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Henn

    5/2019 Very interesting book - pertinent and thought provoking. Written in the early 1990s and updated in 2010. The author, Richard Mouw challenges Christians to be gentler with others; to listen and learn from people with opposing views and ideologies. The author discusses ways to be civil, even when passionate, and suggests we not present a triumphal attitude when stating our own beliefs. He admits there are limits to civility and suggests we remember we serve a slow God - slow to anger and de 5/2019 Very interesting book - pertinent and thought provoking. Written in the early 1990s and updated in 2010. The author, Richard Mouw challenges Christians to be gentler with others; to listen and learn from people with opposing views and ideologies. The author discusses ways to be civil, even when passionate, and suggests we not present a triumphal attitude when stating our own beliefs. He admits there are limits to civility and suggests we remember we serve a slow God - slow to anger and desiring that none should perish.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Panella

    I generally l like Mouw's work, but I was surprised *how* much I appreciated this one. It could be how timely it feels (or, timeless—Mouw originally wrote the book 20-some years ago and updated it a few years ago). His basic gist is how vital it is to have strong beliefs WHILE also being civil, emphatic, and willing to listen and, in some cases, change or grow.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Alsdorf

    An important contribution to the question of how Christians can constructively engage in all aspects of our society, doing so from a posture of humility rather than arrogance, willing to listen to, and learn from, those with whom we differ. Yet also to stand firm where that is called for.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Thompson

    Fantastic book. Lots to think about. We can be decent. We must be intentional

  11. 4 out of 5

    Candace Lazzaro

    Good book. Read it several months ago. Just didn't get around to posting it until now! It's also a good reminder that "decency" is needed in this uncivil world.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    Fuller Seminary professor and president, Richard Mouw wrote Uncommon Decency about the crisis of civility back in 1992. That bygone year seems like an eternity ago in the post-9/11 era of cable news loudmouths, Red States, Blue States, and economic meltdowns. Almost universally, people now acknowledge that things have actually gotten more divisive not less. Mouw does not suggest that Christians retreat or merely try to get along. Instead, he suggests civil engagement within proper limits. He dra Fuller Seminary professor and president, Richard Mouw wrote Uncommon Decency about the crisis of civility back in 1992. That bygone year seems like an eternity ago in the post-9/11 era of cable news loudmouths, Red States, Blue States, and economic meltdowns. Almost universally, people now acknowledge that things have actually gotten more divisive not less. Mouw does not suggest that Christians retreat or merely try to get along. Instead, he suggests civil engagement within proper limits. He draws from the just war tradition to discuss the extent and limits of Christian civility. Mouw's simple suggestion that crusaders need to check their motives and methods before acting is both simplistic and necessary. Thankfully Mouw's advice has not been discredited by the changes of the past decade. Instead, his proposals have the benefit of rarely been tried. To describe our modern situation, Mouw quotes W. B. Yeats, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." Mouw argues that these two extremes have contributed to the downfall of civil society, and Christians especially should live out a "convicted civility." For the rest of the book, he tries to show what civility looks like. Although his analysis is very helpful, Mouw spends little time articulating the content of his convictions. They are assumed out of the Reformed and evangelical tradition. I personally would love to see a book written directly to those who "lack all conviction." There are many in our world who start out nice. For these people, civility has never been hard. These people have the skills and abilities to become leaders in our communities and churches. Their leadership is ineffective precisely because their conviction remains elusive. For those readers, Uncommon Decency only gives them permission to be passionate. It teaches that niceness does not preclude conviction. Unfortunately, the book does not guide them into the passionate life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve Squires

    In Uncommon Decency Richard Mouw argues for increased dialog and understanding between evangelicals and other "polarizing" groups (polarizing to evangelicals). While affirming honest and true distinctions between groups, Mouw insists that dialog and respect represent the proper approach to interaction, rather than the common path of attack and vindictive behavior. Civility, in fact, is the model that Christ gave and therefore should be imitated by His followers. This civility will be compelling In Uncommon Decency Richard Mouw argues for increased dialog and understanding between evangelicals and other "polarizing" groups (polarizing to evangelicals). While affirming honest and true distinctions between groups, Mouw insists that dialog and respect represent the proper approach to interaction, rather than the common path of attack and vindictive behavior. Civility, in fact, is the model that Christ gave and therefore should be imitated by His followers. This civility will be compelling for those outside the Christian community as they are making decisions about the claims of Christ. Mouw does an excellent job of covering "hot button" issues and not avoiding hard conversations. Writing with a lot of honesty, he relays many personal stories that make it clear that he is writing not just from an academic post, but from his heart. Triumphalism and comprehension of God's divine work in the world become targets in ch. 13-14. Mouw rightly critiques the evangelical church for it's myopic view of what God is doing among them and their focus on "winning" vs. humbly living out the truth of Jesus in their life. His chapter on the civility of hell, while informative, seems out of place and somewhat awkward. Overall a good book that helps to challenge evangelicals to think about their role in the public square and the call of Christ on their live.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Taunia Piknjac Phillips

    This is the most inspirational and important book I have read in a while. Its guidance can help to navigate between the complexities and ambiguities of living in both in The City of God and the City of Man. The author writes with clarity, simplicity and true wisdom. I think this book is a necessary read for all Christians (whether evangelical or Roman Catholic) who realise that Christ is returning for ONE bride pure and spotless, not a harem. I am like the Christian from the Yeats poem who is fu This is the most inspirational and important book I have read in a while. Its guidance can help to navigate between the complexities and ambiguities of living in both in The City of God and the City of Man. The author writes with clarity, simplicity and true wisdom. I think this book is a necessary read for all Christians (whether evangelical or Roman Catholic) who realise that Christ is returning for ONE bride pure and spotless, not a harem. I am like the Christian from the Yeats poem who is full of passionate intensity but I want to be more gentle, humble, teachable and truly kind to others. I have often been put off by the nice people who, while immensely popular, are false, duplicitous and void of true conviction. This is a great book that proposes a sound response to the accusation that Christians and the church are discredited because of things like the Crusades and religious wars, denominationalism and a Crusading mind set on issues of morality and religion. The church is guided to be her true self, to be empathatic, compassionate, humble AND passionate and convicted!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Hoiland

    “We were created for kind and gentle living,” writes Richard Mouw. But, he continues, “It is not enough merely to reclaim civility. We need to cultivate a civility that does not play fast and loose with the truth.” That’s the core thesis of Mouw’s classic book, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World (IVP). The problem he addresses is this: those who tend to have strong convictions aren’t often very civil, and those who excel in civility often lack a base of strong conviction. Ou “We were created for kind and gentle living,” writes Richard Mouw. But, he continues, “It is not enough merely to reclaim civility. We need to cultivate a civility that does not play fast and loose with the truth.” That’s the core thesis of Mouw’s classic book, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World (IVP). The problem he addresses is this: those who tend to have strong convictions aren’t often very civil, and those who excel in civility often lack a base of strong conviction. Our aim, therefore, is convicted civility, a term first introduced by Christian historian Martin Marty. Mouw is clear that what he has in mind is not somehow holding conviction and civility in balance, which would be how many of us would talk about the two. No, properly understood, conviction and civility are not to be held in tension, but to be seen as two complementary attributes of a mature Christian faith... - See more at: http://tjhoiland.com/wordpress/2012/0...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    This book is just as necessary today as it was when it first appeared on 1992, if not more so. Mouw calls for a greater display of civility by Christians, both inside the Church and outside, and writes in a way that will be accessible to anyone at all interested in the topic. He encourages Christians to respond graciously in difficult circumstances while recognizing that sometimes we must part company with those with whom we disagree. Even parting company can be done graciously in Mouw's view, h This book is just as necessary today as it was when it first appeared on 1992, if not more so. Mouw calls for a greater display of civility by Christians, both inside the Church and outside, and writes in a way that will be accessible to anyone at all interested in the topic. He encourages Christians to respond graciously in difficult circumstances while recognizing that sometimes we must part company with those with whom we disagree. Even parting company can be done graciously in Mouw's view, however, and he provides examples of kindness in wartime. A thoughtful primer on the topic, the book is more a series of reflections on civility rather than an in-depth theology of public engagement. For that, readers will have to look elsewhere.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    I have not been reading much theology lately, and though this book was written in very simple language, it was still a theology book. As such, it took me a long time to make my way through it. Theology, for me, has always needed to be read in a different way than other literature. It takes longer to digest and think through, and so it should. I very much enjoyed this book. The author is much more conservative than I on the subjects he talked about, but I appreciated very much his willingness to I have not been reading much theology lately, and though this book was written in very simple language, it was still a theology book. As such, it took me a long time to make my way through it. Theology, for me, has always needed to be read in a different way than other literature. It takes longer to digest and think through, and so it should. I very much enjoyed this book. The author is much more conservative than I on the subjects he talked about, but I appreciated very much his willingness to talk about them and his insistence that regardless of position decency and civility are always needed from Christianity.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Mouw lays out an extended case for and description of functional civility in the life of a modern Christian. The exhortation is to a moderation that is so rare in my reading experience that I frequently had to remind myself that he wasn't mincing words. He spends a lot of time making a claim, then explaining the myriad of ways it can be taking so far as to be of no use. This last observation means that it wasn't thrilling reading, but it did have its moments of encouragement and conviction.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    A must read for anyone who professes a belief in Christ. Mouw, retired president of Fuller Theological Seminary and a practicing Calvinist Presbyterian, shares his thoughts on how to talk to one another about the real life questions that are so personal and subjective -- and yet remain civil with one another AND true to our own beliefs. He calls it "convicted civility." This man has opened up my eyes in so many ways and has quite simply "rocked" my world!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carl Jenkins

    Mouw presents a great number of reflections and thoughts on the concept of civility that all Christians would benefit from reading. In a world and culture with as many different opinions, worldviews, and beliefs as there are people, how do Christians maintain their convictions about sex, politics, and other religions without running over others with our words? That's what Mouw addresses. There were certainly a number of times I had to stop and repent during this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Although Mouw writes in an easy to read format, I found myself thinking that he is extremely intelligent and challenging. I believe this is a book that anyone should read especially anyone who finds him/herself in some sort of confrontation whether it is work, politics, family, or life in general. We followed up the reading of this book with a discussion at Church and we know that many of us don't share all the same beliefs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Calhoun

    Wish more of my "Conservative Evangelical" friends would read this. Mouw have many great points. I especially liked chapter 11 which dealt with the reality of Hell and our real limits of knowing just what it is. I started reading this just before the 2012 Presidential Election, and while it is not just about politics it does touch upon the subject.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Renaissance

    Read this for spiritual reading on a retreat. Many good and thought-provoking insights. As a Christian, we often use our faith as justification for lack of civility or expressions of self-righteousness, even to the point of demeaning others. This is directly contradicting the message and spirit of Christ. "Love your enemies" has some very practical applications.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The current cultural climate provides the perfect backdrop for reading this book. Although I don't entirely agree with the specifics of Mouw's views, I greatly appreciate the principles he outlines, as well as his willingness to tackle such a complicated topic. This is a book I predict I'll be coming back to many times in the years to come.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joel Burdine

    One thought that passed through my mind when reading Mouw's book is that in our fragmented and pluralistic society, it would probably benefit us greatly if we wrote fewer books hedging in our positions and more on how to dialogue civily and compassionately (perhaps even Christianly?). Helpful, accesible read. Kindness and conviction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christy Martsolf

    A brilliant treatise reminding Christians that we can be fully loving and fully faithful only when we recognize all human beings as equally valued by God. Civility does not require a shift in the truth, but rather a deep respect for the humanity of those around us. Christians and non-Christians alike.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    There is plenty about this book that I vehemently disagree with, however I think it is well-written and grounded in hope that people of convictions might find ways to communicate with more than civility. And it's good for my liberal self to be stretched by a conservative evangelical, on occasion!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Caplinger

    Not only was it bad because I was forced to read it, but he danced around the line and never actually got his point across which is very infuriating. I spotted multiple typos too, which was very frustrating.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    None

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Rodriguez

    A very important book for our time. It's a fairly slow read, but an easy one. Christians need to hear its message.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.