by Eric Muhr
A friend wrote of his struggle to figure out what is truth and what is trash in popular belief. But his efforts to wrestle with issues have won him few friends among his Christian peers.
“I guess what bothers me about religion and a lot of people in religions is that they completely block out what I have to say just because I have different views, and they refuse to listen to my logic.”
People try to argue him out of his way of thinking rather than seriously considering whether he has anything worthwhile to offer.
That kind of Christianity seems foreign to me (and a little bit hypocritical). After all, if we believe that God gave us minds, then why wouldn’t we expect or allow people to use them? How might that possibly threaten our faith (unless there isn’t really any substance to the stuff that we claim to believe)?
But while I was thinking about my friend’s struggle, I realized something about my own relationships: It’s not just religious people who can be closed-minded (set in their beliefs about politics and success and how to act in public). I wonder if that kind of thinking — where every question has a right answer that must be defended — is part of our culture more than it is a religious problem.
If it is a cultural phenomenon, then it must also be possible to be religious or not religious without a defensive mindset. It is possible to go against the grain without losing your religion. In the same sense, it is possible to resist culture without getting converted.
Maybe we need to go back to the basics, question the foundation on which we’ve built belief. The structure might not be as sound as we imagine. And a rigid system will never serve us well for long because it can’t account for future experience. Because our present foundation is built on what we know, it can’t lead us to the places where we haven’t yet been.
So let’s drop our defenses. Let’s open our minds. Let’s watch and listen for the workings of God in this world. Let’s treat our friends and neighbors as equals, created in the image of God. They have much to teach us.