Some things are perfectly obvious and clear to anyone. Such truths require no further argument or persuasion. They are undisputed certainties. They are black or white.
On the other hand, some topics are not perfectly obvious to all rational people. These are disputed assertions, about which sincere thinking people often disagree. These are not black-and-white issues but are instead "gray areas," or issues about which reasonable people can agree to disagree.
The question before us is how to respond to a dispute in The United Methodist Church, in which both sides of the debate believe their positions are perfectly obvious and true. Each side considers its position a black-and-white certainty, an obvious truth. Yet the two positions are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be right.
In Seeing Black and White in a Gray World, Bill Arnold challenges Adam Hamilton's best-selling book, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, by addressing the question of whether we need more gray in the world around us, or whether it would be better — when all is said and done — if we were to see more black and white.
Bill Arnold is an ordained elder in the Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has served as professor of Old Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary since 1995 and has published twelve books.
*Church leaders interested in a free preview copy for possible congregational use can email micah.smith(at)seedbed.com.