From a biblical perspective contention is a product of arrogance vs humility.
Naturally, everyone thinks "the other" is the arrogant one who causes all the contention. Therefore we need to consider the effectiveness of different ways to solve contention.
The ideal solution for contention is achieving "unity through diversity" by means of open dialog and respectful exchange of views, following the model explained by Henry B. Eyring:
we can be open, we can be direct, we can talk about differences in a way that you can't anywhere else because we're all just looking for the truth.
We're not trying to win.
We're not trying to make our argument dominate.
We just want to find what's right.
Then decisions can be made in unity and conviction.
This is not the same as groupthink because everyone is free to raise his/her differences of opinion coming from different perspectives, with no alternative excluded.
This solution works when people are united in purpose and seek solutions to move forward, based on an underlying shared commitment and shared values.
When people have different purposes and values, the Eyring model may not be feasible, but there is an alternative that can avoid contention. The key is to seek understanding instead of trying to win or convince or coerce.
In this approach, everyone seeks mainly to understand why others reach the conclusions they do. Then, based on that understanding, areas of cooperation and progress can be identified. We end up with "unity through diversity" again.
We start with objective facts (specific evidence of reality, such as a historical document) that everyone can agree upon.
Then everyone identifies the assumptions they make about those facts and their context.
Then everyone articulates any inferences they make to fill in gaps in the fact pattern.
Then everyone sets out their theories to explain the facts.
Finally, everyone proposes a hypothesis or worldview that explains not just the specific facts in consideration but other facts.
This is the FAITH model: facts, assumptions, inferences, theory, and hypothesis.
In this blog we'll look at several examples.
Poor solutions for contention don't solve problems.
At a surface level, one solution for contention is apathy. People who "don't care" can avoid contention altogether by ignoring differences.
Another solution is ignorance, deliberate or otherwise. People who don't understand an issue generally avoid discussing or debating it.
A third solution is deference or abdication. By "giving in" to someone else, a person avoids contention but succumbs to policies, beliefs and practices he/she may find harmful, counterproductive, or nonsensical.