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Christian Union: The Magazine
November 16, 2022

Practicing Intellectual Charity Leads To Productive Conversation

By Anne Kerhoulas

As the holidays approach, many find themselves growing tense at the thought of long meals across from people with whom they are permanently associated but could not disagree more politically, morally, or religiously. As our political climate continues to heat, perhaps we need to think more logically and practically about how to engage with those we disagree with; how we can listen, hear opposing viewpoints, and seek a greater understanding of a person rather than a personal victory in a private debate.  


This Veritas Forum Podcast addresses the ever-important topic of how to disagree, and how to do it well. Exploring the virtue and power of intellectual charity, Diana Hess, the Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School, and Steven Harris, the Senior Director of Academic Programs at the Center on Faith and Justice for Georgetown University, help us understand why listening to others with the benefit of the doubt and with a generous spirit changes the conversation.

Intellectual charity, which is a skill or virtue that is marked by the golden rule in discussion—treat others how you want to be treated—is difficult for most people to practice these days. But when it comes to maintaining relationships with friends and family, it is a necessary skill to develop. 

As Kennedy points out, communication is difficult. We may think we know how to communicate exactly what we think or believe, but oftentimes our words fall short. We need to be generous with one another, desiring to help each other discover more about what we truly believe and how to articulate it more than winning an argument. 

Christian Union fosters this kind of conversation through various avenues. From weekly Bible courses that allow students to explore their faith and discuss how Scripture impacts their daily lives to CU New York forums that create a space for challenging topics and discussion, Christian Union aims to equip Christians with the ability to be charitable in our words and deeds.