Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Messianics Can Use Rogerian Diplomacy to Build Bridges with Local Churches

Ever tried to directly convert a Christian to Messianic Judaism?  It doesn't work, does it?  And why not?

"Because of these differences in basic beliefs and values, the goal of dialogic argument is seldom to convert resistant readers to the writer's position.  The best a writer can hope for is to reduce somewhat the level of resistance, perhaps by increasing the reader's willingness to listen as preparation for future dialogue.  In fact, once dialogue is initiated, parties who genuinely listen to each other and have learned to respect each other's views might begin finding solutions to shared problems,"  (Writing Arguments, Eighth Edition, Ramage, Bean, Johnson)

So is there a less-threatening strategy for dialoging with Christians?  Yes:  ROGERIAN ARGUMENT.

I apologize but I have to use a big quote here:

 "Rogerian Argument...An even more powerful strategy for addressing resistant audiences is a conciliatory strategy often called Rogerian argument, named after psychologist Carl Rogers, who used this strategy to help people resolve differences.  Rogerian argument emphasizes 'empathetic listening,' which Rogers defined as the ability to see an issue sympathetically from another person's perspective.  He trained people to withhold judgment of another person's ideas until after they listened attentively to the other person, understood that person's reasoning, appreciated that person's values, respected that person's humanity...What Carl Rogers understood is that traditional methods of argumentation are threatening.  Because Rogerian argument stresses the psychological as well as logical dimensions of argument, and because it emphasizes reducing threat and building bridges rather than winning an argument, it is particularly effective when dealing with emotionally laden issues.
Under Rogerian strategy, the writer reduces the sense of threat in her argument by showing that both writer and resistant audience share many basic values.  Instead of attacking the audience as wrongheaded, the Rogerian writer respects the audiences's views and demonstrates an understanding of the audience's position before presenting her own position.  Finally, the Rogerian writer seldom asks the audience to capitulate entirely to the writer's side--just to shift somewhat toward the writer's views.  By acknowledging that she has already shifted toward the audience's views, the writer makes it easier for the audience to accept compromise.  All of this negotiation ideally leads to a compromise between--or better, a synthesis of--the opposing positions.
The key to successful Rogerian argument, besides the art of listening, is the ability to point out areas of agreement between the writer's and reader's positions....You begin this process by summarizing your reader's position sympathetically, stressing your shared values...Building bridges like these between you and your readers makes it more likely that they will listen to you when you present your own position," (ibid, pg. 138)

I finally realize why the UMJC was able to build a bridge with Grove Ave. Baptist Church!  They don't say that Christians are "wrongheaded" and that they should follow Torah.  Okay, Christians SHOULD follow Torah but maybe let's not tell them that right up front since it is so threatening to their belief system.  The UMJC has emphasized a COMMON VALUE.  What might that be?  A COMMON LOVE FOR ISRAEL.  These first Friday Shabbat events are really a celebration of Zionism that "just happens" to have some Messianic teaching thrown in.


So I guess you CAN learn something from UMJC and FFOZ.  (But really this type of strategy goes back to the psychologist Carl Rogers--let's not give the UMJC too much credit!)


  1. Although my beliefs are 'one law' and I believe Torah is for all nations, one thing I have to say for FFOZ.

    Polite, respectful, showing they have a 'fear of G-d'.

    Unlike some of the rudeness and sarcasm I have found here, on James' site and on Dereks' site.

    1. I make no claims to being perfect. I'm just a guy who is trying to stick up for his One-Law Messianic brothers. If I go too far on occasion then it's because of my desire to stick up for my brothers.

      I started this blog ON THE DAY that I learned that Boaz called my brothers "followers of Korach". Now, if he wants to take that back...then I'll show him the utmost courtesy.

    2. And I don't want him to call me and apologize for the comment. I want him to PUBLICLY say that he was wrong to say it. If he can do that, then maybe you'll hear me saying nice things about FFOZ rather than devoting MY LIFE to going after a bully organization.

    3. Peter, you can hold their feet to the fire. Better, you can bless those who curse you as our Master instructed.

      Whatever the outcome, it is my hope you boys find reconciliation in our Messiah and overcome the division.

      "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

    4. Anonymous,

      "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," (Matt. 10:34)

      Do you know who said that?

      What you are doing is exactly what the media does to Israel:

      Step 1: An Enemy attacks Israel

      Step 2: Israel defends its people

      Step 3: The media blames Israel for a "cycle of violence"

      Here's what's happening with me and FFOZ:

      Step 1: FFOZ calls my people "followers of Korach"

      Step 2: I refute this false teaching as the Bible instructs (see Titus 1:9)

      Step 3: You blame me and say that I'm rude and lighting a fire under their feet.

  2. "I started this blog ON THE DAY that I learned that Boaz called my brothers "followers of Korach". Now, if he wants to take that back...then I'll show him the utmost courtesy."

    As long as he said it being polite, respectful, showing he has the "fear of God..."

    What a load of crap....

    1. Dan has shown how unfair it is to call me "rude" and call Boaz's statements "polite."

  3. "Dan has shown how unfair it is to call me "rude" and call Boaz's statements "polite."


    Well, when I said polite I meant to me. My experience here is rudeness and I don't mean only you. I mean for example comments like Dan's "What a load of crap....". He might even be right, but no one is taking him serious because he does not control his tongue.

    "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."

    For the most part I find you respectful and certainly can see you are working at it and it makes me want to be more respectful too. I can only tell you how much I appreciate it and thank you for this example you have decided to set, that makes me want to improve my own communication.

    I'm sorry if I was unfair.

  4. Are you the same Anonymous as in the other thread? why don't you have the guts to reveal your own name? Now, you are going to call me impolite, no?