Relational Wisdom

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:24 AM

Peacemaker Ministries's founder and president, Ken Sande, has stepped down from his post at the organization. Most of you know that I am a vocal opponent of Peacemaker's program for a variety of reasons that need not be rehashed here, but I find something telling to the larger situation of the American church that I think is worth interacting with:

The transition from Peacemaker Ministries does not mean that Ken is leaving peacemaking behind. He has already begun work on a new teaching paradigm, which he is calling “Relational Wisdom,” or, simply, “RW.” […] As the transition is completed and our new CEO identified, Ken hopes to turn his attention fully to RW, writing a new book, and starting a sister ministry that focuses on relational wisdom.

This idea of moving from “paradigm” to “paradigm” hints at a problem endemic not only within the sphere of Peacemaker Ministries, but also within many of the other “ministries” that appear in American Evangelicalism today. Too many of them end up being built upon the shifting sands of marketing, buzzwords and “paradigms” (complete with a dash of “shifts”). What is “relational wisdom”? What distinguishes it from normal Biblical teachings on relationships that requires giving it a new name?

Our consumer-driven culture likes these sorts of packages, because they are easy to implement and have clear goals. When everything can be solved with a book and an organization-for-hire, we need not do the hard work of thinking through how the Gospel is to be uniquely applied to the individual situations and people we interact with each day. Programs can be good, don't misunderstand me, but in the Christian life our goal should be to study, teach and preach the whole counsel of God faithfully, not simply to pass through a smattering of programs that cover all the issues we happen to deem important.

Too often, programs that can be dropped into any church with the promise of somehow helping people live better lives end up focusing on one aspect of Scripture, boiling it into a few catchy phrases people memorize, overemphasizing it to the point that it becomes distorted and then calling it a day. Worse, given that we accept that buying “solutions” is a valid means of fixing our problems, once we have completed the program, we are inclined as a culture to assume we know all we need to know. But, as the messiness of real life plays out, these programs end up being forced upon situations they do not really fit. Much as if one memorizes some phrases of a foreign language instead of learning the language's grammar, whether we realize it or not, at some point we hit a dead end.

This is why it is so important that we study the entirety of God's Word and constantly seek to understand how the issues the Biblical figures faced parallel our own issues. When we wrestle with Scripture and see the coherent arc of the story, we can discern the Biblical approach to all sorts of matters — including dealing with conflict — in a way that is much fuller and more applicable than any program ever could hope to be. If we want to be wise in how we relate to and care for our neighbors, all we need to do is immerse ourselves in the Bible and pray for the Spirit's aid in living out the Gospel. That is real relational wisdom that will never become replaced by a paradigm shift.

Also Filed Under: Home: Faith: Relational Wisdom

Re: Relational Wisdom

I wonder how many more people will brought into bondage by this man's “genius”?

Posted by Ed Hurst - Jun 18, 2012 | 2:22 PM

Re: Relational Wisdom

That's a very good (and scary) question, Ed.

Posted by Tim Butler - Jun 19, 2012 | 12:59 AM

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