Recently I read a very sobering article by a theology professor about one of his colleagues who had abandoned his Christianity. What was particularly worrying about it was that, as far as he knew, his colleague had not simply walked away because of some longing to be back in the world. He had arrived at his decision as a result of serious reflection on what he had seen as basically dishonest attitudes to theological discussion. Typically, believers appeared to him to view discussion only as a means of guarding and defnding the doctrines, dogma and tenets of their particular credo, rather than as a forum for exploring and distilling truth. And a lot of the time we think we are so right only to find out after the damage has been done, how hopelessly mistaken we were.
Among the attitudes that frustrated him, for instance, was the inconsistent notions that are typically held as to what it means to be "in the world, but not of the world." Of that he wrote,
For instance, one of my students recently posted on her FB wall, that beautiful passage from 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” I had the temerity to ask her what that meant in practical terms as it relates to hearing the “coronation” speech of our new PM... at his party’s annual conference. She could not respond and instead was content to see my question dismissed by a friend of hers who stated that the passage has nothing to do with politics. No amount of trying to convince her that the passage speaks of people with a new understanding of life in its entirety, including politics, could shake her resolve. (You can read the whole article here.)
Equally disturbing is the judgmental way in which some of us treat those who, for whatever reason, have lost faith.I went away wondering how many people I may have driven away by my own dogmatic or otherwise counterproductive attitudes. Sometimes it may be best for us to be less eager to talk and more willing to listen.