Don’t Disengage Your Brain

bq. “franky”: “writes”:
I just noticed that I’m on your blogroll and I was wondering why you have an atheist on your blogroll (when it seems like you are obviously Christian). Not that I’m trying to deter you or anything, I was just curious. Thanks :)

This is a good question, and I thought it could bear a little more thorough answer than the “one”: I gave him earlier today.

It’s very easy to fall into a place where you so firmly adhere to your beliefs that you are unable to entertain the notion that you might be wrong. It is also possible to find yourself in a place where you may be absolutely correct in your stance but your attitude toward those who disagree is so reprehensible as to completely undermine any respect you may have garnered. The only way to avoid both of these pitfalls is to continuously consider the idea that some aspect of your position, or your _entire_ position, may be incorrect or flawed. This then enables you to be humble about your beliefs and discuss them with ideological opponents without malice or arrogance. It also allows you to actually listen to the other side of the issue and consider it, rather than merely disregarding it out of hand.

Personally, I hate the idea of locking myself into a philosophical coffin, dead to the possibility of new ideas, immersed so thoroughly in my own cogitations that I am divorced from the world around me. That way leads to death, in more ways than one. Rather, I prefer to acknowledge a particular shortcoming — my ability to know and to reason holds inherent limitations, and it would be foolhardy of me to assume that I can possibly know everything so thoroughly that I cannot help but always be correct. I know that other people have perspectives different from my own, naturally, and those perspectives, when shared, enable to me to view my own in a new and fresh light. Sometimes, I am affirmed in my beliefs, but other times I find validation lacking and discover that a change is needed. Rather than burying my head in the sand and pretending that problems don’t exist, I would much sooner address the issues. I don’t necessarily have to agree with the other stance to recognize accurate criticism, but I cannot see that criticism for what it is if I am too isolated within myself. I have watched many Christians alienate both their fellow believers and the very people to whom they are supposed to minister exactly by arrogantly refusing to admit their error. I do not wish to be one of those Christians.

Part of seeking to better myself involves immersing myself in the world around me. Keeping abreast of events and opinions different from my own helps me keep in touch with the culture. It challenges me and keeps me thinking, keeps me looking at my own beliefs in a new and fresh light. There are only a handful of beliefs that I consider non-negotiable, but the rest are, to some extent, up for continual review. The people I keep in touch with serve as my reviewers, especially when their thoughts stimulate my own. Hence, I read weblogs that belong to individuals who I may disagree with ideologically. I wish to grow and learn continually. That does not, and cannot, happen all by itself.

Thanks for the great question, franky!

3 thoughts on “Don’t Disengage Your Brain”

  1. This was a very encouraging word! I have been facing a lot of criticism recently for my willingness to read and study things outside of the realms of Reformed theology. It is encouraging to know that others are thinking, too, and that reading works from and conversing with people outside my own Christian tradition is not a wrong thing to do. Thanks!

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