A few days ago I got involved in a pretty mild disagreement on FB. It was on a Christian topic that I consider fairly minor, and one in which my view is rather middle-of-the-road and nuanced. Despite all of this, at the end of the discussion, the one who had started the conversation remarked positively on my courage to express my opinion in a forum of those who held a very different view.
I really did not think I was being courageous at all:
- My view was far from opposite of the others. It was just more flexible.
- I, frankly, did not know that I was going into a group with a different view than my own. (Truthfully I probably should have guessed that the group was embracing a different view. The signs were there— a person shares an e-article on FB and adds the comment something like, “Mmmm. Interesting article. What do you think?” That comment usually really means, “Hahhh!!! Checkmate!”– despite the mediocrity of the actual article cited. “Confirmation Bias.”)
But that is not the main reason I was not being courageous. But before I get to the main reason…
I wrote a post a few months ago that suggested that John Calvin may be a “wee bit wrong” about something. I got a response from a friend of mine that said that I had probably hit a nerve with a large number of people. I may have been courageous to share it… but perhaps a bit foolish. Again, I don’t feel all that courageous because:
- Theology is a human construct, and theologians are— well— human. As such, it should be fully anticipated that theology and theologians are wrong… a lot. Calvin (and not just his overzealous followers) is certainly wrong a lot because humans are wrong a lot. It should not be hugely controversial to say that his theological perspective may be a bit missiologically deficient or that, just perhaps, he confused the sovereignty of God with the control of God in a way that distorts exegesis of some key Biblical passages.
- I am wrong a lot because I am also human. It is hardly courageous to share something that could be wrong since we all do that even when we try not to.
And that leads to the biggest reason I am not being courageous:
As Christians, we are called to give each other grace, understanding that we don’t and won’t always agree on everything. It is not courageous because it is not supposed to be courageous. We are supposed to exhort and admonish and love and encourage one another. Where is the fear and danger in that?
I do admit, however, that it is amazing all of the blogposts and articles out there calling pretty much everyone else heretics. But that reflects badly on the writers more than their targets. This is not to say there are not false teachers. Since all of us are wrong at times, we need to give a bit of grace regarding what level we say that wrong good people have crossed the line to wrong bad people.
It is hardly courageous to express one’s opinions to those who may not share those opinions, but it is certainly cowardly to only hang out with one’s “Yup, me too” gang members and take hurtful potshots at those passers-by who hold a different perspective.