On Civility

Dan Strange for Themelios Vol 46 Issue 1

Coming to Our Senses: The Case for a Civil Elenctics and an Elenctic Civility

In April 2021, Dan Strange wrote “Whether it’s politics, protests or pandemics, 2020 could well be called the year of incivility, with fragmentation and fracturing exponentially exacerbated by the phenomena of ‘cyberbalkanization’ and the ‘splinternet’. The temptation to talk past each other, to caricature and stereotype in our echo-chamber soundbites, is so strong. We feel squeezed, squeezed of the time needed for reasoned debate where we can discuss things properly, and squeezed of a space for fear of being threatened, abused and cancelled. That we’re fearful is part of this vicious cycle”.

The response Dan proposes is this:

“the discursive framing of Christian civility [with} a passionate intensity that is not only ‘convicted’ but is ‘elenctic’ in its shape. Elenctics which derives from the Greek ἐλέγχω (to ‘convict’ or ‘unmask’), is a neglected theological term, indeed, it’s an entire ‘lost’ theological discipline which in previous eras had its own distinct place within the theological encyclopedia… Elenctics has a missiological drive because it is not primarily concerned with an ‘on the back foot’ defence of the faith, but rather goes on the offensive, attacking unbelief”.

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