6/01/2011

Destruction in the Name of "Saving"

This article sparked quite the little back and forth in email today amongst my friends an myself - though we all ended up on the same side of things, honestly.  It starts out


Five words could prevent the public brawls between Christians who differ in their opinions on social and theological issues.
“…but I might be wrong.”
And honestly it never gets much better. The author suggests that tacking on those five "little" words adds a spirit of humility to the discussion that helps your opponents see you as a reasonable, rational person. Pushing aside the question of why anyone you're involved in dialog with isn't, as a matter of course, seen as a reasonable, rational person by default, it begs the question: if Christians need to tack on those words, shouldn't they be viewed as beneficial to anyone? In effect, shouldn't we all just throw our convictions out the window, tack on a disclaimer, and then *magic sprinkles!* no one ever needs to disagree with anyone ever again. After all, we're all just stating our opinions, right? But no, the author has no such suggestion for anyone other than those who claim to follow Christ. And it's those followers of Christ who have so much more to lose if they cave in to this ridiculous thought process.

The best summary of my thoughts, put ever so much more elegantly than I have come up with are those of a friend's dad who chimed in:

The problem is not a person, or group of persons, holding a belief and then espousing that belief as fact.  The problem lies with the politically correct intelligentsia who have redefined the concept of tolerance in our current age.

In countries where free speech was a guaranteed right, the concept of tolerance was that you were allowed to believe what you wanted to believe and could speak to those beliefs without concern of punishment.  I was to be allowed the same privilege.  Our only obligation to one another was that we were required to respect the other person’s right to believe what they wanted to believe.

In our current politically-correct environment, tolerance has been redefined so as to require me to acknowledge that your beliefs are as valid, and are equal in that validity, to my own.  That is absurd.

The Holy Spirit speaking through the writings of Paul did say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”   This is not an optional suggestion, but a command we are to live by.  However, Paul also acknowledges the gospel message, centered on the cross of Christ, is “offensive”.  (For an excellent read on this concept go to http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2594.htm )

Jesus himself said that he came “not to bring peace but a sword” and that his incarnation would set even the closest family members against one another. (Matthew 10:32-39).  

In my studies of the Scriptures so far, I have never found a command, or ever a strong suggestion, that the “saving of the church” was my responsibility or concern.  I have found some “Go ye therefore” verses and will concentrate my efforts on those.
Honestly, if what you believe is so open to interpretation that you're willing to add on to the end "but I might be wrong", then I question two things:
  1. Why do you bother to believe it if it's just as likely to be wrong as right?
  2. How is it possible that you are really following Jesus who came as "the way, the truth, and the life" -- not "a way, a truth, and a life".
I hope, earnestly, that the majority of the church isn't taken in by the idea that we somehow owe it to anyone to qualify our beliefs in the name of getting along. Unfortunately, I suspect that many already have been.

3 comments:

Jen said...

We have a responsibility not to qualify our beliefs, imho. I will never seriously say, "but I may be wrong" about Jesus. That path leads to death - my own and the person's to whom I speak. As you said, the gospel message is offensive. It's meant to be.

That said, we do need to speak in love and I think that we too often try to browbeat people to belief. Only the Lord can do that - He convicts, He reveals, He does the work. We just come alongside, in obedience, to share His message. How we convey it is to be prayerfully managed.

tpsaye said...

I have been known to say "I might be wrong" from time to time, but only in the sense that I might be ignorantly misstating some particular point of doctrine, never in the sense of questioning my underlying beliefs.

When it's used in that latter sense, I think there is an implicit nudge and wink that all this religion stuff doesn't matter much because in the end it's all really bogus anyway, which is even worse than the "Christianity and water" attitude that C.S. Lewis warned against.

-Robbo

beth said...

I agree that we need to speak the truth in love - but I think often folks aren't sure what that means. The love is not more important than the truth - sometimes the most loving thing you can tell someone is that they're bound for hell if they don't make some changes. In so far as you're able, present the truth boldly and lovingly...but if you have to make a choice between speaking the truth and being found "unloving and intolerant" by the general masses, then I think the truth being presented is more important.

I do find myself mentioning that I might be wrong in similar occasions, Robbo, but the general gist of the article, as I read it at least, was that we should preface (or end) *any* theological assertion with those words, not just ones where we are also truly trying to understand.