calling all heretic dogs: disagreement and respect
Why do we do it to each other?
Yes that’s right, we. I use the word “we” for two reasons; the first is that I am as guilty as anyone, the second is to emphasise the inclusiveness of Christ and that we all Christians are brothers and sisters in him.
Today I was asked if I would write more posts on the topic of violence in the Old Testament (see my last post). My response was that though I am sure my views about the Old Testament and biblical interpretation will be given a respectful hearing by most people, there are those who will respond with an ugly disrespect that I am not, at this particular point in time, willing to incite.
Maybe you have felt the same.
At different times over the last few months I have been called names like liberal, heretic and dog. I’ve been likened to Satan. I’ve had my blogs posted on others people’s Facebook Walls accompanied by dismissive, abusive or personal attacks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I have it bad in any way; I am not suffering, especially when compared to those who face substantive persecution.
But these experiences do lead me to ask the question – why do so many Christians find it so hard to accept that others believe different things to what they do? Why do they find it so much harder to engage in respectful dialogue?
Do we really believe that we have everything so correct, that there is nothing new to learn, or that others may not have thought about a topic more than we have?
These days I’ve reached a point where I’m not even really worried about what people believe as much as I am about what it means for their lives and actions. Since when did doctrine become the indicator of someone’s faithfulness to God anyway?
I’m sick of people banging on about doctrines and theology in a way that reduces it to meaningless discourse about who has the so-called truth without reference to real life. I’m sick of people banging on about debates that occurred in the 16th century which have little relevance in today’s world. I’m sick of people being abusive or arrogant without having ever taken the time and care to advance a thoughtful, cogent argument of their own on an issue.
But perhaps most frustrating, and indeed most depressing, is the amount of Christians that I speak to about different theological topics who express their desire to have had such controversial conversations earlier, but having felt they would be somehow looked down upon decided against doing so.
Are Christians doing them any favours by being so rigid and venomous about doctrine? I wonder what onlookers who don’t follow Christ think about all this.
This post is perhaps more fragmented than usual, and there is nothing original or profound about it; the truth is I don’t have a fully formulated set of thoughts around this issue. I guess I just wanted to get this off my chest, and maybe hear from other people who feel similar to the way I do.