When it comes to theology, I find it hard to love those with whom I disagree. Especially those who attack my beliefs or the beliefs of others whom I love and respect. Yet the Lord clearly tells me to, “Love one another as I have loved you”. He even tells me to love my enemies! I find it hard enough to love the twits who write disingenuously of my Sisters and Brothers in Christ!
How do I move forward then?
I sincerely pray that I may hold my theological convictions with humility and love those with whom I disagree! Here are six good suggestions (from the Book, Simple Church – Unity Within Diversity), for maintaining humility whilst discussing theology…
1. Realise that you are wrong. All of us are – no exceptions! You may not be wrong about everything, but you certainly aren’t right about everything either. Since you are guaranteed to be wrong about some things, you still have more to learn.
2. Learn how to learn from others. I’ve found that I often gain the most from those with whom I most strongly disagree. God gifted us all differently, and that includes our areas of understanding. If you’re convinced a fellow believer is wrong in one area, you probably have a lot to learn from that person in other areas.
3. Make every effort to understand differing view points rather than trying to disprove them. You can’t truly understand a belief by reading a book written against it – such efforts rarely represent the other side accurately. Instead, try getting to know people who hold different beliefs. Ask them personally for explanations. Don’t defend your own beliefs; just listen.
4. Seek the truth together. Ignore the desire to prove your theology. If your current beliefs are wrong, you should want them corrected. If they are right, they will hold up without your defence. Winning a debate doesn’t prove a theology, but debates can tend to polarize people away from each other. Be ready to explain your beliefs when others ask, but be even more ready to listen as others give their explanations.
5. Remember that you are part of a family. If you would not separate from a family member over theology (and I certainly hope you wouldn’t), remember that your union in the family of God is far more important than that of any physical relation. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and there is no reason we can’t agree to disagree.
6. Keep your eyes on Jesus. When He is the focus, little else matters. Determine, along with Paul, “to be concerned about nothing … Except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1Cor 2:2)
(Excerpt taken from ‘Simple Church – Unity Within Diversity’ Edited By Eric Carpenter
Chapter by Chuck McKnight – A Church That Holds Theological Convictions With Humility.) (Redeeming Press)
Br. Michael Daly.
Having read recent articles attacking Rob Bell and Pope Francis in the online rag ‘Charisma News’ and more recently in the so-called evangelical ‘Christian Post’, I find it terribly sad and telling that the first Christians were known by their love for one another….and now Christians are known by their vitriolic finger-pointing, stone throwing, accusatory damnation of the brethren…especially those accused of being deceptive false teachers! Once Jesus said He would build His Church..but now Christians are building it, in fact have been doing so for a long time (check out its history of those defending scripture, theology and doctrine..and you think ISIS is bad!) as they know better and seemingly can’t trust the Lord to finish His work! Jesus gave us one commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you”…simple!…. But O No…we can’t just do that…we need to bring people into submission to our interpretation of Holy Writ and condemn all whom we consider are misrepresenting our take on The Truth! Thousands have been brutally murdered by having their heads cut off, burnt at the stake, or by being hung drawn and quartered, because the Bible gave some Christians the idea that they were the builders of the Church and their interpretation was infallible! Now we don’t burn people or behead them..at least not in the name of Christ….but we seek to destroy them (though we call it ‘saving’ them) by destroying their character and name through the media.
Br. Michael Daly. CJ