John Inazu on His New Book ‘Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference’

Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group. The Exchange Team contributed to this article.


I am glad to welcome John Inazu to The Exchange. Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as the executive director of The Carver Project. He is the author of two books and frequently writes on topics of pluralism, assembly, free speech, religious freedom, and other issues. This past March, we recorded a podcast with John Inazu where he discusses religious liberties. Today he joins us to discuss his latest release, Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference, which he co-edited alongside Timothy Keller.


Ed: What do you mean by Uncommon Ground?

John: Christians can and should be able to find common ground with others, even when we don’t agree on the common good. But finding common ground is surprisingly uncommon.

Ed: What does it mean to be a translator in today’s culture that lacks a shared Christian vision?

John: We need to take the good models from global missions in the 1980s (there were some bad models, too) and realize that the mission field has now come to us. Think about how people would prepare for missions by learning a new culture and language and context. It’s no different here. The people we’re trying to reach may look like us and speak the same language, but we still need to prepare in the same way for the process of translation, and that means knowing the people with whom we are engaging.

Ed: How do you feel we need to behave or speak to interact with those with whom we disagree?

John: We should focus on people and relationships first, even when we find they have ideas we see as harmful or wrong. We need to see people as image bearers, as other human beings created in the image of God. If we work on relationships first and get to know people, that will open up space to articulate differences and try to persuade across those differences. People want to know that you care about them, and we need to do the slow work of building trust and relationships.

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Source: Christianity Today