There was an interesting story on NPR about vegans and vegetarians. The title was “Do Vegetarians And Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?” I found the conclusion of the story especially intriguing:
It’s clear to me that Friedrich and Patrick-Goudreau believe not that they are better people than meat-eaters, but instead that their dietary practices are better for animals, and for our world as a whole, than the habits of meat-eaters. Why do many people so readily confuse these two things?
That made me think about some of the discussions I’ve had over the last few years. There are times when I’ve found it hard to express the idea that I believe a certain way of living and acting is better, yet I don’t think that I’m better than those that choose differently. Some examples:
- I have come to believe that Christians should not participate in wars. Yet I remain proud of some I know that have chosen a different path, not because of what they did, but because of their reasons for doing so.
- I think that involvement in politics dilutes our effectiveness in this world, yet I have good friends who hold office and others who are extremely active in their respective parties. Again, I don’t agree with their choice, but I don’t question their motives.
- I have come to believe that patriotism and nationalism are threats to spirituality, yet I know Christians that I greatly admire who believe just the opposite.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. We hold to our convictions, firmly believing that we are right. Yet we can do so without judging others and without believing that our stance somehow makes us better than others. I will try to convince others of my position and hope they will try to convince me of theirs. That’s how we grow as Christians. Yet it must always be done with an air of acceptance and respect.
Anybody up for a good steak?
I just read an interesting quote from Randy Harris, Bible professor at ACU:
“As I grow older more rapidly, I find myself less interested in fencing over doctrinal issues which will not change the people in the conversation. I’m interested in what will lead us into a deeper and fuller relationship with God.” (from Good Shepherds: More Guidance for the Gentle Art of Pastoring, p.55)
Stopped me in my tracks. The next few posts I had in mind were more pointless fencing than they were “move people closer to God” posts. What do you think? Is there room for discussion of “lesser matters” or does that just lead to arguments that profit no one?
I’m not sure if it was from being out of the country for 15 years or just getting old, but when we returned to the States in 2002, I found talk radio to be disgusting. Not all of it; I like Dr. Dean Edell, Dave Ramsey, Bruce Williams and most of the sports shows. It’s the “I’m right and everyone else is an idiot” guys that blew me away. Suddenly abuse was the order of the day. The only way to be seen as truly believing in one’s ideas was to belittle opponents, accusing them of mental and moral deficiency. Anyone who disagreed was a dishonest, idiotic coward who just didn’t get it.
Somehow, that same tone invaded many religious discussions. Maybe it’s always been that way. But I sure notice it a lot more these days. When I’ve pointed this out at times, I’ve been reminded that “there is only one truth,” so there is no reason to be respectful to those that disagree. [Just so you’ll know I’m not just picking on “us,” I experienced the same in a non-Church of Christ forum when I defended the belief that baptism is part of the salvation process.]
Is it possible to have strong convictions, yet express one’s opinion humbly and respectfully? Can I truly believe that I’m right, yet allow for the outside possibility that I’m wrong?
I’m very much open to suggestions as to how to express disagreement in the proper way, how to share strong convictions in a non-offensive way. Let’s hear what you have to say.