Saturday, October 26, 2013

Be Fair, Be Informed, Be Wrong

I recently wrote an article in defense of cross-disciplinary discussion, encouraging people to engage the world around them. In your pursuits, you are sure to run into opposing and distinct viewpoints (not all of which are going to be contradictory). When you do disagree, be fair, be informed, and be wrong.

Be Fair
Oh, how easy it is to set up a man of straw and then blow it to pieces with a shotgun. Do not. What may be a fun exercise in target practice is sure to maim to you when your opponent has a gun as well. Be fair to the one you are arguing with. You are arguing against ideas, and though the person is the vehicle which the idea uses, if you are a friend of truth, you will love the person and pursue thinking alongside them as two finite men seeking to understand an infinite God and the world he has created. You may appear as a giant to those who are ignorant, but when someone with real knowledge stands before you, you will be seen for the intellectual ant you are—for only someone who is small in morals can willingly choose to set up a scarecrow. And what then when you stand before Gnosis (knowledge) and Alethia (truth) himself?

Be Informed
Simply because you are amateur in many areas of life does not mean you have the leisure and luxury of being immature or remaining ignorant. If you hope to make any contribution to dialogue, you must be able to speak into what is already being said—what is. Do yourself and those around you a favor: learn first, speak second. As soon as a fool begins to speak, the king’s jester will mock; stay silent instead, and people will think you wise. King Solomon said something similar. If you disagree with another, then at least know what it is that you are denying.

Unfortunately the uninformed Christians are prone to speak before they know. Believer, this does nothing to persuade men to the truth, and their mocking does not give cause to claim reward if you have failed to fulfill your responsibility. Philosophical postmodernism does not claim that everything is true. Atheism does not necessitate a lack of wonder/amazement at the universe. The LGBT community does not always choose to become something different than they were. Calvinism does not say people cannot choose. Arminianism does not say people are saved by works. Paedobaptists do not believe their babies are Christians. Credobaptists do not believe there is nothing significant about being born into a Christian home.

The list can go on for paragraphs about things that are frequently misunderstood or uninformed. If you did not know the things in this list, you have been ill informed by those who taught you otherwise. If you did know, and still portrayed the views as such, repent and ask forgiveness from God for you have hated not loved your enemy.

Be Wrong
Be freed to be wrong. You do not know everything, and some of the things you do know are incorrect. That’s okay. Learn from it; learn from others; be wrong and be excited that you have been shown truth. And even so! Pursue the truth. Pursue it further than you were taught because you are seeking to know a God with whom you will enjoy eternity. Do not fear knowledge, pursue it and take it as far as you can. For some time, when I would think and study and write, I wanted to be innovative—coming up with something brilliant which nobody else had thought! Over time I realized how dangerous this actually is; it became comforting to know that someone else had said this last year or 500 years ago, or that somebody else had said this and been proven wrong. Continue thinking and discussing, but never move to the part of the house where the lights are off and nobody ventures—you may be safe from the ridicule, but that’s not the goal of life. Be corrected, and do it humbly.

Be freed to be wronged. Simply because you care for others does not mean everyone will care for you. They will not be fair. They will not be informed. They will not be wrong. In such instances, find your identity in Jesus. Jesus is much more than proper thinking. When your thinking has gone wrong, or when it has been caricatured inappropriately, look to Jesus not to your intellectual prowess. He is truth, he is wisdom, he is the word by which the world was created, and your righteousness comes from him, not by getting the thesis down.

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