Saturday, 1 March 2014

Mutual Respect - or not

These days there's a lot of conflict between conservative/traditional christianity and the more liberal/freethinking side.

It's a bit of a generalisation of course, but still worth the observation.

When those with more liberal beliefs present them, its often in a way that is forceful, provocative and challenging. After many debates and arguments the "liberals" get frustrated with the blindness of the traditionalists, and the traditionalists get annoyed at how liberals have twisted things like scripture and theology to their own agendas.

I can understand both sides of that argument.

Traditionalists say that the liberals aren't prepared to listen to their side of the arguments in a balanced perspective and have intelligent respectful debates. So here's my take...

Those who have more liberal beliefs (you know, things like biblical inerrancy, universalism, homosexuality etc), have had to battle through traditionalist thought to get to the more liberal beliefs. They already understand the traditional paradigms. They don't have to sit and listen to endless biblical debates in a balanced discussion, because they have already done it to get where they are now!

The onus is not on radicals/liberals to be balanced, its on traditionalist/fundamentalists to listen!

From my own experience, I've found the moment I express something that conflicts with traditional paradigms it's assumed I have no idea of the "true" biblical perspective or understand the theology and doctrines that have become christianity as we know it today. Basically, its assumed I'm ignorant and just need to be shown the truth.

But I, and nearly all liberal thinkers, are extremely well studied and come to the conclusion we do because of that - not out of ignorance.

So really there is no "balance" needed at all. Sure, we respect everyone and don't abuse them, but the responsibility is not on the radicals to justify themselves, its on the traditionalists to listen and respect the fact that the radicals completely understand the conservative side already and don't need it explained over and over.

If you can't handle people shouting about hyper grace, universalism, LGBT issues, biblical inerrancy etc, then the problem may well be with you. The onus is on you to listen to those who have been where you are and have seen things differently, not the other way around.


I realise that no one should be disrespectful in all this, and I'm not advocating ramming things down people's throats. There are many older folks and some with simple faith, who simply can't comprehend the whole issue in the first place. 

I'm not advocating arrogance, but trying to get across that traditionalists are making the huge assumption that liberal thinkers need to be corrected by the very thoughts and paradigms that have caused them to question traditional religion in the first place. They hold the position that we just don't have enough knowledge of scripture, good exegesis or correct theology.

And of course, most importantly, this is a generalisation :-)