Guest / Limited Access /
Arguing Against the 'Argument Culture'
Courtesy of Tim Muehlhoff

Blood pumping. Temperature rising. Voices thundering. Anger and confusion. Do all of our conversations about difficult topics—politics, family, finances—need to be this way? Tim Muehlhoff, a marriage expert and professor of communication studies at Biola University, doesn't think so. In I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love (InterVarsity Press), Muehlhoff charts a path for navigating difficult conversations with grace and truth. Derek Rishmawy, a minister to students and young adults in California, spoke with Muehlhoff about combining modern insights from communication theory with timeless biblical truth.

What makes the subject of communication methods so urgent?

As a culture, we're losing the ability to talk about the deepest things in a tolerant and civil way. That's bleeding down into our personal relationships. Georgetown linguist Deborah Tannen calls it the "argument culture." You see it in American politics any time we try to talk about same-sex marriage, immigration, or other hot-button issues.

We have to find productive ways to communicate with family members, coworkers, and children, whether it's sharing our faith or talking about the kid's schedule that's gotten out of control. This book takes modern research on communication and develops a practical strategy for entering tough conversations in a productive way.

Many of us think that in difficult conversations, the key is to put aside our emotions in order to think "rationally." You say that's a mistake. Why?

Jack Gibb was the first researcher to identify what we call "communication climate." As soon as two people start talking, a communication climate ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueThe Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
Subscriber Access Only The Uneasy Conscience of a Christian Boxing Trainer
Why it may (or may not) be okay to watch adults beat up on one another.
RecommendedI Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
I Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
How an MMA fighter found Jesus—and discovered his calling in the Congo.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickWomen’s March Sets Out to Exclude 40 Percent of American Women
Women’s March Sets Out to Exclude 40 Percent of American Women
What pro-life feminists actually have in common with their pro-choice counterparts.
%%var.bookTitle%%
I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love
IVP Books
2014-03-28
224 pp., $11.80
Buy %%var.bookTitle%% from Amazon
Christianity Today
Arguing Against the 'Argument Culture'
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.