Charles Gutenson

Charles E. Gutenson is a church consultant and former chief operating officer at Sojourners. His most recent book is Church Worth Getting Up For.

Posts By This Author

Gun Talk

by Charles Gutenson 03-22-2016
Fostering dialogue with those who disagree with you on firearms.
Kubko / Shutterstock

Kubko / Shutterstock

SO YOU WANT TO HAVE a chat with someone on the other side of the gun control debate, but you’re worried that it could quickly go south, descending into interminable and acrimonious debate. Well, fear not! Here are a few simple guidelines that can help avoid that outcome.

1. Resist false dichotomies

There are a wide range of positions that Americans hold on issues related to gun control. Polls consistently show that most gun owners support some degree of gun regulation. Similarly, few of those who choose not to own a gun believe that, therefore, no one should be allowed to own a gun. Given this, why does the debate so quickly deteriorate to: “You and Obama wanna take my guns!” on the one side and “You folks just don’t care about the gun violence epidemic!” on the other? The first step toward mutually respectful dialogue is to get rid of the false dichotomies.

2. Don’t caricature the other side

It’s an unfortunate part of our everyday discourse that we often attempt to dismiss our opponent’s position by creating an absurd caricature of it. You know the drill. Someone makes a sympathetic comment about gun regulation and the response is: “Oh, so you want to repeal the Second Amendment!” This sort of caricature avoids serious engagement with the issue by recasting it in terms that exaggerate or misrepresent the other’s position. Serious engagement on this issue, or any other, for that matter, requires careful attention to what the person actually says. Resist the temptation to cheapen the discussion by caricaturing the other’s position.

Who Hijacked My Church?

by Charles Gutenson 03-01-2012
Illustration by Janusz Kapusta/Getty Images.

Illustration by Janusz Kapusta/Getty Images.

“Church folks are just too political!”

When people are asked why they have decided to leave the church, this has become an increasingly popular response. And, sadly, it is a particularly popular response for those in the 18-29 year old demographic. That we Christians have allowed ourselves to become too political and too partisan is a major contributor to the decline of the church.

Partisanship and its corrosive effects are not a new thing to the culture at large. However, more and more that cultural partisanship is infecting the church and gnawing away at the bonds which are supposed to hold them together. In the process, the church gets hijacked and redeployed for partisan ends, leaving those expecting better from the church disappointed. 

Christians and the Common Good

by Charles Gutenson 05-09-2011
For the longest time, when Christians have thought about political engagement, they have often begun the discussion with the question: What is the biblical role of government?

Taking the Bible Seriously

by Charles Gutenson 04-01-2011

Too often we try to make scripture fit our own agenda, rather than the other way around.

What We Need is More Killing!

by Charles Gutenson 11-18-2010
Now, let me see if I have this right. Real men kill, maim, and inflict destruction. Saving lives and rescuing those in harm's way is, well, feminine.

Political Meltdown

by Charles Gutenson 10-08-2010
It is very difficult to observe the current political landscape and not conclude that the process has seriously broken down.

We Won't Back Down from Beck

by Charles Gutenson 09-29-2010
Ah, the evils of "social justice"!

Glenn Beck: Does He Really Matter?

by Charles Gutenson 09-08-2010
In the course of our various responses and challenges to Gl

Glenn Beck as Theologian

by Charles Gutenson 04-15-2010
Did you know that scripture says, "there is no God?" Yep, it sure does, right there in Psalm 14:1, right after the words "The fool has said in his heart..." Interesting, isn't it?

The Family Research Council, Wolves, and Shepherds' Clothing

by Charles Gutenson 03-16-2010

In a recent Family Research Council e-mail, in an article titled, "Rev. Wallis: Wolf in Shepard's [sic] Clothing?" Tony Perkins aligned himself with Fox News commentator Glenn Beck's recent attacks. Perkins said:

Subscribe