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INTEROFFICE MEMO

From:     Marketing
To:         Staff
Subj.:     Business Opportunities

We are introducing a new marketing idea for the alternative dispute resolution business:  Gossip. Gossip itself is hardly a new concept, but we believe that its usefulness in creating conflict has not yet been exploited fully.  We think now is the time.  Remember:  More conflict, more business!

We don’t believe this will have to be that complicated.  Simple gossip should work fine.  Questions starting:  “Did you hear . . . ?” and “You know what’s happening over at  . . . ?” will get you started down the hill.

Most people don’t think they are gossips, so we should be able to slip this in without too many alarms going off, if encouraged appropriately.

Here’s an example:  In the last few months, there has been a controversy within a certain local Christian community.  This controversy has been discussed in emails, blogs, letters, and lunches.  One of the most common themes running through these forums is second- (and third- and fourth-) hand “news.”  [Note to Staff:  Never say “gossip”; always use the word “news.”  If necessary, spiritualize it with “Oh, we really need to pray about . . . .”]

Sometimes, people bring this stuff to us and it goes something like this:

Did you here what Bubba just did?

“Nope, what?”

He just [painted his car red,  or whatever . . . ]!!!

“Hmmm…. That’s strange.  Why did he do that?”

Well, isn’t it obvious?!  It’s because of ______!

“Really?  That’s what Bubba told you?”

Whadya mean?

“When you asked Bubba why he did that, is that what he told you?”

Well, I never asked Bubba myself, but

check one:

[  ] What other reason could there be?
[  ] I got that from an impeccable source.
[  ]
Everybody knows it.
[  ]
That’s just the kind of person he is.
[  ]
His father did that too ya know.
[  ] Where there’s smoke, there’s . . . well, you know.

Now at this point, you have to be careful.  The more sanctified saints are going to feel a little Holy Spirit poke right about now.  The G-word might even come to mind.  Quickly change the subject.

The power of gossip to create conflict in the Church cannot be overemphasized.

  • It allows the judging of other people’s hearts in their absence.
  • It precludes the subjects of the gossip from responding or explaining themselves.
  • It permits little grains of sand to grow into beautiful pearls of controversy!

Now, there are admittedly some problems with this marketing approach.  For instance, we need to stay away from certain Scriptures.  The admonitions about taking your concerns one-on-one to your brother first (Matt. 18:15) are a problem as are any verses about doing unto others as you want them to do unto you (Matt. 7:12).  (A handy list of other verses to avoid is at the bottom of this memo.)  We can’t blatantly ask professing Christians to tear those sections out of their Bibles or they’ll know something’s up.  For the time being, Marketing is suggesting “the dodge.”

Change the subject.  Emphasize how “juicy” this news item really is and how “cool” and “connected” they’ll seem when they repeat it to their friends.  Are these not “choice morsels”? (Prov. 26:22)  Appeal to their need to be accepted and this will get you past most of the objections.

Remember, just because we are recommending avoidance of certain Scriptures, doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the truth!  In fact, this whole marketing concept is based on truth found in the Scriptures!  For instance, Prov. 26:20 rightly tells us that “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down” and Prov. 16:28 truly advises us that “A slanderer separates intimate friends.”

So, in summary, if the alternative dispute resolution business is going to grow, we are going to need more and bigger disputes.  Gossip is the perfect fuel for controversy:  It’s easy to do, takes no time or monetary investment, makes you feel superior, and is nearly self-perpetuating.  What are you waiting for?!

–Marketing

Read the rest of this entry »

The fact of the matter – like it or not – is that every single day, professing Christians are in secular court battles with each other.  Some do it knowing that it is wrong, but proceeding anyway because they think it is in their best interest.  Some, however – and I think it is really “most” – do it because they do not perceive any alternative.  To the first group I would say (quoting a very funny, but totally unrelated, skit by Bob Newhart):  “Stop It!”  To the second group, I would have to ask:  “Is it really true that you have no alternatives?” or “Have you gone to your church?

Now why did some of you let out a deep sigh when you read “Have you gone to your church?”  (Yes, I did hear you all the way over here.)  I think that the Bible could not be any clearer that there are two duties in the case of unresolved disputes between confessing Christians:  (1) the parties have the duty to go to the Church and (2) the Church has the duty to resolve.  I get that from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6: 1-6:

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?  I say this to your shame:  Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

The Believer’s Duty.  There really is not much to expand upon with regard to the believer’s duty in these situations.  In a rare moment of restraint, then, I won’t!  It is this simple:  Do you claim to be a follower of Christ in a dispute with another who claims to be the same?  Then you must take your “case” to the Church at the outset.

The Church’s Duty.  If the Believer’s duty is clear, is the Church’s duty any less manifest?  As between professing Christians, the Church is to be the primary vehicle for resolution (and not just resolution like a secular court can give, but also restoration and reconciliation – but more on that in another blog another day).

[Note here my deliberate use of capitalization of the word “Church” to make reference to the Universal Church, the Bride of Christ, over against the local gathering of congregants at a certain geographical location often called a “church” but without initial capitalization.]

Why then is it that churches (to my limited experience at any rate) are so ill-equipped to fulfill their duties in this respect?

Let me ask this question to specific people groups:

Seminary Professors, Deans, and Trustees:  If I Corinthians 6 contains a mandate for the local church (and I believe it does), in which course are your M.Div. students getting instruction on this?

Pastors and Leaders:  What are you doing to keep your congregants from stumbling into the secular courts?  Have you presented them with a reasonable alternative?  I am not really going to “beat up on pastors” here because I just have so much respect for someone with that calling in that position – but the question must be asked.  (For more on this, please see my open letter to Pastors on our main site at: www.controlaltdisptue.com/letter.html )

Christian Lawyers, Mediators, and Judges:  What are you doing with your “vocation”?  Were you gifted and called to share your talents only in the secular arena?  Isn’t there something you could bring to the Bride in this area?  I’m not saying it has to be something as elaborate as what we did with ControlAltDispute, and I’m not even going to try to guilt you into any more free services (because lawyers as a group seem to be solicited for free work disproportionately to other occupations), but I will ask you to ask yourself the question:  Am I using my gifts and calling directly for the Bride?

Foundations and Successful Business Owners:  Can you help?  At ControlAltDispute, though our fees are low and split between the parties (and/or sometimes funded by a local church), there is still a cost involved.  (I have personally “daydreamed” of a foundation approaching me someday here in south Florida with a big bag of money saying, “Can you help the poorer among us to resolve their disputes outside of the secular arena if we help fund it?”)  Maybe you can be that benefactor to your church in your location?

[There.  I think I’ve offended everyone now . . . .]

We’ve got the clear Scriptural admonition, we all know we expose the Bride to ridicule when we go before the secular courts, and together we have the resources to comply.

So whose job is it anyway (to see that we don’t ignore I Cor. 6)?  I guess it is all of ours – all of us who claim to make up the body, the Church, the Bride.  We all bear some, but not the same, responsibility.

Let me close with the chorus from “If We Are The Body” by Casting Crowns (I am sure their primary meaning was not Christian mediation or dispute resolution, but in my tunnel-visioned world, it fits):

But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way.

Your thoughts?

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

“I’m not sure it’s even possible to resolve this one!” 

Very often the reason someone seeks a Christian mediator is that they are seeking not just resolution, but reconciliation.  It could be that there was a business venture or a marriage that has taken a bad turn and people who were once friends are now . . . not.  Both sides want healing (whether they express that or not); but frankly, they’re not even sure if it is possible.  It often seems like “too much” has happened for anything to be “fixed.”

In Mark 9:14ff, we read the well-known account of the incident where a man in a large crowd approached Jesus to tell him that he had a son who since childhood had been possessed by a spirit who caused the boy to do terrible things.  The father explained that he had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they were not able to do anything.  Then he said to Jesus:  “If you can do anything, please help us.

Stop right there.  What is your first thought about that question or the man asking it?  My first thought (unfortunately) was:  “What an idiot.  ‘Son of God,’ remember?  Water into wine, blind seeing, lame jumping, dove descending . . . Hello?

Upon further reflection, however, that criticism is too harsh to impose on a contemporary of Jesus.  When we look at the scenario now, we bring with us our entire knowledge of the New Testament.  We know all the players, the plot, and even the surprise ending.  This man did not.  We have almost no idea what this man had heard about Jesus, except that somewhere he had been told that Jesus and His disciples could perform some types of miracles which included dealing with demon possession.  He probably was skeptical when he first heard this, but for some reason he made the trip to find out for himself.  We deduce from this that he necessarily had some measure of “faith” no matter how small.

What happens when he finally gets there?  The disciples strike out.  Nada.  Nothing.  They can’t help his son.  For some reason, though, the father doesn’t turn around and go home (wonder why . . . ?).  Instead he invests more time and energy in getting directly to Jesus.  (We aren’t told how much more time or energy, but it might have been considerable.) 

When he gets to where he’s told Jesus is, he makes his way past the large crowd — I think it fair to assume that means he purposed to and did something more than everyone else in the crowd just to be able to get within speaking distance of Jesus.  Again, I think this is painting a picture of a man possessed of some amount of faith.  In my mind, I see a man who is tired after expending all this effort and when he finally gets to Jesus, what does he see?  Nothing special.  Just a man.  His followers are failures and their leader is . . . plain.  Can we, then, blame him very much for wondering aloud “Are you able?”  I mean, Jesus probably doesn’t appear any more able than His disciples.

What, however, about us?  We know who Jesus is so is there any post-resurrection application of this story for us?  You see, the question of Christ’s ability has been answered once and for all.  No thinking person can ask that question ever again.  It is now perfectly clear who Jesus was and that He was and is today able.

If anyone asks today whether Jesus is able, they are asking the wrong question.  If one must ask whether Jesus is able, then one should instead be asking “Who is Jesus?”  The answer to the “who” question – which is much more important anyhow – moots the “able” question.  I think this is Jesus’ point, by the way, in His response in verse 23 (paraphrasing):  “What do you mean ‘if’ I can?  If you believe I am the Son of God, then you know that all things are possible for me!”  Jesus is very clearly saying “Who do you think I am?  If you think I am the Son of God, then you have your answer to the ability question, don’t you?” 

[Side road:  I know that some read verse 23 differently.  Some interpret it as saying that “all things are possible” for someone who has enough faith.  So we try to work up more and bigger faith so we can “do” more and bigger things.  I do not think that is what is going on here at all.  The context of this verse is on Jesus’ ability, not on the boy’s father’s ability.  The boy’s father did not enquire how he could gain the ability to heal his son:  If the boy’s father had asked that question, then I would agree that Jesus might have been telling him that all things would be possible for him if he had more faith (although that would give me a problem with Jesus’ other teachings that the size of the faith is not the issue (e.g., Luke 17:5, 6)). 

‘Nother Side road:  Also, I wonder if Jesus, when he spoke of the need for “belief,” was looking out of the corner of his eye at the very disciples who had failed to cure the boy.]

Though the ability issue is settled, there is still an application today for this story.  The big question for today is no longer:  “Jesus, are you able?”  It is, instead:  “Jesus, are you willing?”  Personally, I do not remember at any point in my Christian life asking if Jesus were “able” to do something:  It never even crossed my mind that there might be a limit on what He could do.  I have often, however, in my own life wondered if He were willing to do something.  This is the much harder question.

Lord, this one is sick” or “Father, this situation is unjust” or “God, it would really be great if” – all these describe situations in which God is eminently able to act.  The question for today concerns His desire or His will for the particular situation.  This, I believe, is where the issue of our “belief” comes in today.  Perhaps it could be viewed this way:

Pre-Resurrection:  Do you believe Jesus has the ability to ________?

Post-Resurrection:  Do you believe Jesus is perfectly working out His plan regarding ____________?

The perspective we need to develop today is that the-God-who-is-able is carefully implementing His plan – a plan that no man and no spirit can thwart.

Do you believe that?  (If you are theologically liberal in your thinking, you might not!  You might hold to the idea that God has given man such “free will” that God has no control in certain areas:  God “hopes” certain things will happen, but He really doesn’t know if they will or not, and He can’t do anything to frustrate man’s “free will.”  Liberal theology is very scary.)

Conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist:  Do you believe that God is carefully executing His perfect plan in all its particulars?  Seriously? 

So this is a blog site about conflict and situations gone awry.  You’re thinking right now of a situation that is way messed up.  Do you really believe God is implementing His plan in that situation?  If you are like me – no insult intended – then you have the head knowledge to get this question right on a written multiple choice exam, but maybe your actions and fears don’t match up quite so well.  Do you ever say (with me): “God, I know you are in charge in a ‘big picture’ kind of way, but this particular situation right here really looks like a mess to me!  Here’s what I’m thinking needs to happen . . . .” 

This is where the next verse (24) comes into play for us today.  Note how the boy’s father says:  “I do believe; help my unbelief.”  Belief in what?  In Jesus’ day, the belief might well have been in Jesus’ ability to do something.  Today, however, the object of belief must no longer be on God’s ability, but instead on His having a perfect plan – a plan that is better than the one you’re currently devising. 

Do you believe the-God-who-is-able has a perfect plan?  Even for that situation?  Did you act like you believe that?  Do you, like me, have trouble with that last question?  Then pray with me: 

“God, Your ability is not the question anymore.  I know You can do it all.  I also know You have a plan – and I know it’s a far better plan than the one I have.  I do believe that; help my unbelief.  Help me to believe it so perfectly, that I act that way.” 

[I believe in gravity.  So much so that I base all my actions on that belief, unhesitatingly, and without question or even a thought that it might not be true.  Why then is it so hard to believe that the God who created (and sustains) gravity has a plan and to base all my actions on that belief?]

 . . . and always remember how loving Jesus was to the man who lacked belief and admitted it.  He cast out the demon, the boy looked as though he were dead, and then Jesus extended His hand, raised the boy up, and restored him to his father.  He won’t be any less loving towards you now.  (Did I mention His plan is better than yours?)

So, take your situation “to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, [and] to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

Instead of bieng philosophical or controversial today, we’re going fundamental.  I want to address briefly an area where I get a lot of questions from clients and friends.  Since this is a mixed (some would say mixed up) blog, I want to divide this discussion into “civil” and “Scriptural” parts.

Civil Mediation and Arbitration.  It is very common to be confused about the terms “mediation” and “arbitration” as they are used in a civil or litigation context.  The terms are regularly misunderstood and misused – and despite what you may have thought, they are not interchangeable. 

A mediation, as the term is used today, is a very different thing than an arbitration.  A mediation is most often illustrated by two parties who present their different positions to a neutral third party who, working with them both (often in separate rooms), tries to facilitate a settlement between the parties.  In a mediation, it is always the parties themselves who are in control of the outcome and the mediator’s role is to try to help them devise their own solution. 

In an arbitration, on the other hand, the same two parties present their positions to a neutral third party (in the same room) and then the parties hand over control to the arbitrator who judges between them and enters a “ruling” which may be entirely different than what either one of them wanted (or would have settled for).

A quick way to remember the difference between the two is to associate the terms with trigger words. 

I say “mediator,” you say “facilitator.”  (he facilitates the parties reaching a settlement)

I say “arbitrator,” and you say “judge.”  (he judges between the parties with a ruling)

For a fuller explanation, and side-by-side comparison table, please check out this section from the FAQ page at www.ControlAltDispute.comhttp://controlaltdispute.com/faqs.html#differencebetweenMedArb

This distinction should take you a long way down the road in understanding the terms as they are used in civil litigation.

Scriptural Mediation and Arbitration.  The terms themselves are both found in the Scriptures, but one must be careful not to take the 21stcentury American legal usage/definition and apply it rigidly to these ancient writings or contexts.  In the Scriptures, the term “mediator” is primarily used to describe someone who stands between two parties so as to reconcile them to each other (grk:  mesitēs, from mesos meaning “middle”).  In this sense, it is consistent with the role of “mediator” as we use it in the American court system.  The “manner” or “procedure” however, is entirely different from what is found in the Bible.  (Hint:  Do not expect your court-appointed mediator to act as a ransom for either side!)  Also, the same Greek root translated as “mediator” is sometimes, in some translations, rendered “arbitrator” so, again, a direct and rigid application of the modern legal terms to the older writings would only serve to confuse.

If you wanted to study the Scriptural usages of the terms more closely, you might want to start with these verses concerning mediators and arbitrators:*

Gal.  3:19-20:  “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.  Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.

1 Tim. 2:5-6:  “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

Job 33:23-24:  “If there is an angel as mediator for him, One out of a thousand, To remind a man what is right for him, Then let him be gracious to him, and say, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’;”

Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24:  “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises . . . .  For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance . . . .  Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

1 Sam. 2:25:  “If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?”

Ezekiel 16:52:  “Also bear your disgrace in that you have [mediated for] made judgment favorable for your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.”

Ex. 21:22:  “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no  injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay [lit. by arbitration] as the judges decide.

Lk 12:13-14:  “Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”  But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

If you wanted to start a Sunday school discussion, you might ask:  In what ways is Christ’s role as mediator the same as, or different from, a court-appointed mediator?  (Speaking just for myself, I have yet to mediate a dispute between a perfectly holy party and a party dead in sin and trespasses . . . .)

For homework, read Chapter VIII of the Westminster Confession of Faith (“Of Christ the Mediator”) which begins with:  “It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.” (citations omitted)

So now you know.

Blessings,

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esq.

*(All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.)

One of the biggest challenges I have as a Christian mediator is to get people to put things in perspective.  Oftentimes, by the time the parties have come to me, their controversy has seemingly eclipsed everything else in their lives.  I have a lot to say about perspective (and at least two more blogs on that in progress already), but today I want to focus on a single phrase you’ve probably never heard before:  Prospective Retrospect.

History and Definition. I first used the phrase “Prospective Retrospect” in my law practice in the late 1980’s.  I was in the middle of counseling a client in my office about a decision presently before him and I was trying to make the point that he needed to look forward into the future and consider how he would one day look back on this decision that he was considering today.  When I heard myself say the phrase, I thought it was rather (accidentally) poetic and I made a “note to self” to consider the phrase further after the meeting.  I have since that time used it many times with others – and with myself as well.[1]

Thoughts. With that history in mind, I give you six thoughts on the usefulness in your own life of “Prospective Retrospect.”

1.  When. My first thought is that we should almost[2] always consciously live our lives in Prospective Retrospect.  In other words, let me suggest that you should almost always make your decisions by looking forward into the future and considering how you will one day look back on the decisions that you are considering today.

2.  Is it Biblical? Over the years, I have decided that the concept is very Biblical, though the exact phrase is not literally present in the Scriptures.  It is implicitly present, however, in several Biblical principles (such as stewardship).  In the end – that is to say at my end – I want God to look back at my life and say “Well Done!”  I am even now looking forward to the future when I want to hear Him say “You were faithful in the past with a little, and now I am presently putting you in charge of even more.”  (cf. Matt. 25:21)

3.  Denying Oneself. I suspect the most common (and least appealing?) manifestation of using this concept will be in the denying of immediate gratification.  The Prospective Retrospect is, after all, a “long term” or “long range” perspective.  It requires that we forgo things we want now because of the desired benefit later.  It may sometimes sound like:  “I’m gonna wish I wouldn’t have spent that, bought that, said that, ate that, fell for that, watched that, listened to that, clicked on that, dated that, tattooed that, etc.

4.  In the light of eternity. To encourage someone to live with Prospective Retrospect is very similar to saying one needs to live his life understanding that his present decisions may well have consequences that are literally eternal.  I remember listening to a professor (R.C. Sproul[3]) in seminary explain the importance of living our lives sub specie aeternitatis – “under the aspect of eternity.”  This thought has many Biblical facets (e.g., it carries with it the idea that our lives are very brief, a “vapor” Phil. 4:14) which are parallel to my thoughts on Prospective Retrospect.

5.  NOT! What Prospective Retrospect is not is seen in the bumper sticker I like:  “Someday we’ll look back on this, laugh nervously, and change the subject!”  The whole point is to be able to look back – even way back – and rejoice!

6.  Application to Christian Mediation. This concept drives a lot of what I do at ControlAltDispute.com.  In the “business” of reconciling and restoring, it is very powerful to be able to have the parties each see their own situations from an eternal perspective.  The wrongs that we perceive and the rights that we demand take on a different quality when we consider how we will look back on them from a mansion in eternity.  Will we not blush at some of what we thought was SO important at the moment?  Do you want to sit there with your friends in Heaven watching an episode on the History Channel (on Bob Barnes’ posited heavenly IMAX screen) about the time when you demanded your rights regarding . . . (you-know-what)?  [Insert emoticon for “cringing” here.]

So what do you think about Prospective Retrospect? (Or, more importantly, someday in the future, how will you look back on what you think about it today?)

  • What is it today that you are considering that will have long-term (even eternal) consequences?
  • With a Prospective Retrospect, how will you now choose to act?
  • Are you storing up for yourself where moth and rust will not destroy?  (Matt. 6:19)

Live it.

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

____________________________________________

Footnotes.

[1]Many years ago, as Internet search engines such as Yahoo! (and later Google) were coming on the scene, I used these search engines to determine if this phrase had ever been “coined” before.  Initially, I could not find the phrase anywhere (which made me quite pleased with myself, truth be known).  Later, however, it would show up from time to time in an obscure context.  (Even so, by January of 2009, there were only about ten references, most all of them referring to the same four books listed on Amazon.com.)

[2] I have to say “almost” because (1) “always” by itself just seems too much for a mere man to insist upon and (2) it presently strikes me as neurotic to be so obsessed with any single perspective every waking moment so I must leave room for another . . . at least sometimes.

[3]Of course, in my further research on this topic, I find that Sproul at one point seems to gut my admonition to try to see things from an eternal perspective by noting that we are finite and do not even have the ability to see things from an eternal perspective!

“An important slogan in theology is finitum non capax infiniti.  This means that “the finite cannot grasp the infinite.”  The limit of our comprehension is the earthly perspective.  We do not have the ability to see things sub specie aeternitatis – ‘from the eternal perspective.’”

Stubbornly perhaps, I am going to resolve the tension between his quotation and my admonition by noting that it is still laudable to try to see things from this perspective, even if it cannot be done perfectly.  (There are certainly parallels to attempting things which cannot be completed perfectly such as the command to be holy as God is holy.)  I am confident that he would approve of my resolution (noting that Sproul often uses the phrase “right now counts forever!”).

In the end, there will be resolution for everything.  It is comforting for the Christian to know that when Jesus comes back, He will bring with Him resolution.  (The book of Revelation, if you think about it, could almost have been called Resolution instead.)  Given the vast amount of controversy in life, this is really a shocking statement.  Can you even imagine total resolution?

I had a funny picture in my mind when I was thinking about this recently.  I was thinking about how diverse my Christian friends are on so many “intramural” (i.e., non-fundamental) Christian issues.  I personally tend towards a very “reformed” theological perspective, but I have some close friends who are doctrinally just this side of “Whoopee!”

For some reason, I began to think about baptism and how when we all get to heaven, God might say to the crowd during orientation (Hey, don’t be critical, it’s my daydream and I say there’s going to be orientation . . . .): 

God [to crowd]:  “Okay, what I’ve decided to do is not just to bestow a ton of perfect knowledge on you all at once, but to let you all learn things gradually.  So, for starters, just to sort of break the ice, I want everyone to line up on this long line here according to your views on what you think I meant about baptism.  Let’s do it by “quantity of water,” so all you full-immersers over here to my left and you sprinklers to my right.  Pourers and semi-dunkers can find your appropriate place in the middle as you best determine.” 

Representatives of the major denominations would all be there, toes at the perfect place on the line, just waiting for God to pick their group and their place on the line, thereby declaring them the winners and justifying their earthly positions.  “Yes!” they muse to themselves, “Vindication at last!”  Similarly some non-denominationals and independents would be scattered at various points along the line waiting for God to justify their views and their places on the line.  Then God would say:  “OK, ready?

So what do you think happened next?  Do you think God picked your viewpoint?

Well, here’s what really happened (remember, it is my daydream):  The Father looked at us all with big eyes (the kind a story-teller uses when he is about to announce the hero’s entrance), then He glanced at the Son (with the “should I tell ‘em?” look), and then, from behind them both, I heard the Holy Spirit . . . snicker.  It was muffled at first, but it quickly spread throughout the Trinity to full-blown laughter! 

After a while, but not a long while, all of us on the line looked to our lefts and rights, and somehow we all instantly felt ridiculous with our toes so “perfectly” placed on a line and we began to laugh too.  Now you know how contagious laughter can be here on earth?  Well in heaven, that is multiplied sevenfold!  We laughed so hard we cried.  Baptists were slapping Methodists on the back; Presbyterians were hugging non-denoms.  We kept on this way for a quite some time and then just naturally found ourselves – still laughing – gathered around the Throne.  (I looked back at one point to see if anyone was still on the line, but no one was; or more accurately I think, there was no more line.)

Somehow our laughter morphed into worship at the Throne.  It was hard to say when one ended and the other started . . . or maybe they didn’t.  Choirs and praise bands from various (and I do mean various) earthly congregations were leading the service and it was a wonderful time:  The best, actually.  Next thing I know, the Father stopped us and said:  “Who wants to see something really cool I created that none of you have seen yet?!”  He (nearly) leapt off the Throne and we, of course, all followed right behind Him trying to match His pace . . . .

That was pretty much the end of my daydream.  Now some of you are wondering “Yeah, but who did God say was right about baptism?”  Well, all I can say is that you wouldn’t have asked that question if you had been there.

There’s going to be resolution someday . . . on all issues.  Why not avoid the rush?  Seek resolution now and start with something important.  (C’mon, you know the particular situation in your life that I’m talking about . . . .)  “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9).  “Insofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). 

You can do it!

–M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

Welcome to ControlAltDispute’s Blog!  For those of you who don’t know, ControlAltDispute is a Christian alternative dispute service.  We seek to serve as facilitators of resolution and restoration, as well as to serve as judges of controversies between confessing Christians, primarily through legally binding mediation and arbitration.  (Visit us at www.ControlAltDispute.com to learn more about us.)

In this blog, we will be writing on and discussing various topics relating to controversies, resolution, restoration, and reconciliation – mostly from a Christian perspective.  We will be focusing on areas where we think there is insufficient information – or even misinformation – available on the Internet.  (Searches for “Christian Mediation Blog” and “Christian Alternative Dispute Blog” came back with no substantive hits.)

I’m also working on the assumption that you are at least a little like me with too much email to read already, so I promise that we will not be twittering or Facebooking about our favorite restaurants, last vacations, pictures of our pets, etc., in this blog – this will be strictly substantive content and I am aiming for different topics every week or two.  We have some topics already picked out and some articles already written (including some controversial ones), but we will try to be guided by your questions and comments, so jump on in!

What’s next?  Well, the first thing you ought to do is subscribe.  It’s fast, easy, and free:  Just click on “Subscribe” (at the top of the menu on the right of this page) to get notices by email or if you don’t want to use email, you can use the RSS feed (see the two links at the very upper right of this page).  Of course, you can unsubscribe any time just as easily.

Finally, let me just say that this blog is not just for — or even primarily for — lawyers or even businessmen.  It is for Christians who are interested in resolving controversies, restoring relationships, and generally conducting themselves in life so as to be a “fragrant aroma” . . . not the other kind!

Blessings!

-M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire


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