Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Charitableness

a Biblical thought...
The Jews received Paul's message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence. (Acts 17:11-12)

a Book thought...
While ever we keep Christ in the manger, we limit the impact the adult Jesus had on those he encountered. For it was an adult that Jesus modelled for us the sweet, naive, innocent lifestyle of a man who steadfastly refused to be drawn into the conflict and divisions of his time. (p103 Frost)
a Dave thought...
"Charitableness" (the postmodern substitute for charity) is something altogether different. It's a broad-minded, insouciantly tolerant, unrelenting goodwill toward practically every conceivable opinion. Its twin virtue—often labeled "epistemic humility'—is a cool refusal to hold any firm and settled convictions. These cardinal postmodern moral values are both seasoned with blithe indifference to the dangers of heresy.In other words, if you want to be "charitable" by the postmodern definition, you must always leave open the possibility that someone else's truth is equal to if not better than yours. You must never write off other people's beliefs completely. Above all, you must seek to be conciliatory, not confrontive. Bottom line: you pretty much take the position that nothing we believe is ultimately anything more than a personal opinion.Naturally, then, building bridges to non-Christian worldviews is deemed a better tactic than challenging error head on. Winning the admiration of unbelievers becomes vastly more important than demolishing the false ideologies that bind them. As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to gain non-Christians' respect and appreciation is by looking for common ground and then stressing those areas of agreement, rather than pointing out differences between what the non-Christian believes and what the Bible teaches. The more compliments and congratulations you can give to other points of view, the better. And the more your ideological adversaries like you at the end of the dialogue, the more gratified you are entitled to feel.

I have been in several conversations of late regarding diversity in theology. As in all movements
there are many varied opinions and beliefs, but how we accept and listen to one another is always the challenge. We seem to hang out or go and hear certain speakers we see eye to eye with and dismiss others we don't agree with. My personal belief is that that we grow and learn through many varied experiences. Last year I went and heard many speakers from Bishop Spong to Brian Houston, some struggle with this, but I believe as we work out our theology as a movement and as individuals we need to read and listen more to a variety of theologians.

Just a thought.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me creep. If we just listen to everyone's opinions and accept them without any correction then what are we here for. The Scripture is where the answer is found - not in man's theology. I was present today when a lady came into faith in Christ and it was a great experience but if she were to read something like this blog she would be so confused. She accepted in simple faith that Christ died on the cross for her sin and that by faith she has accepted Him into her life. How complicated do we need to make things. The Gospel is simple - it is we humans who complicate simple faith. Jesus Himself said that we need to accept in simple childlike faith and I take his words over anyone elses.

JDK said...

I don't hear Dave saying that we should accept everything that we hear, but simply that it is worthwhile to listen to other opinions occasionally. 'Simple' faith isn't a pure version of Christianity, it's just one that chooses to ignore the wider historical and theological context in which the Christian faith exists. The global reality is that Christianity takes many forms and has always reflected this. To think that one's own particular understanding of faith is the only possible correct version is not only arrogant, but denies the possibility for any future growth. Let's be prepared to listen to others - not uncritically, but with an open heart and a sharp mind - and let the test of their words be the degree to which they make this world a step closer to God's Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that I am seen as arrogant for that is the last thing that I am and I trust that you are not arrogant either. I possibly read as many theological books etc as you do (I happen to proof read for some publishing companies who write the type of books that you are talking about) I was simply trying to state that there are some that are in reality heretical and that it does not help a new Christian to read that kind of stuff. They accept Christ in simple faith but it does take some time before they are ready to read the sort of thing that is referred to here. But I still say that some authors make me creep with their twisted views. Maybe if you read some of them in their original state before editing you would feel like I do - I see them in the raw. I am not ignorant or arrogant when I make this comment. I am simply seeing it from a newcomers point of view because of the beautiful experience that I had seeing that person come into faith. I believe that she will grow and be able to take more solid food for thought as she is a mature age student but all too often there is nothing that is very relevant to such newcomers. I am just sorry that you got that impression of me because I am very well read and have also been through theology studies. God bless you.

JDK said...

Dear Anonymous, I doubt that a paragraph read on a blog comment ever does any of us justice. Perhaps I come across as aggressive, defensive or arrogant myself - I'm not really such a bad guy either. I agree that we don't need to flood new Christians with too much information. The point I was trying to make was that if we refuse to listen to other's opinions then we don't leave much room for growth. Surely having a childlike faith doesn't mean that we don't have to progress beyond what we've learnt in Sunday School?
Regards, JDK

David said...

Is theology really any better thanmajority opionion? Equivalent to a sociological theory?

So much of Christian belief appears to be non-sensical and not based on evidence.

Look at the following criticism of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many Christians would just dismiss such argument as either hurtful, or "spiritually blind" (which is another way to desribe the condition of being insufficiently brain-washed).

"To hold the position that the cessation of cellular activity in a man-god for 36 hours is an adequate recompense for all the evil mankind has done over roughly 150,000 years of history -- including Hiroshima, the Holocaust, the pogroms of the medieval era, the countless genocides, petty violences, rapes, murders, infanticides and slavery of human existence -- is one of the silliest beliefs I've ever heard. It sits up there with flat-earthism, phrenology and young earth creationism."

[Source: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/04/resurrection-and-prayer.html]

You might also be interested in the discussion of the belief in Hell also on the same site.

If you accept one belief that is not supported by evidence and logical argument, why not accept them all?