Be careful what you say

It is so easy to speak harshly of those who believe differently than you.

I have entered what Brian McLaren calls the third stage of faith: perplexity. Everyone has an opinion. Who knows what is right? And I’m slowly shifting to the fourth: Harmony/Humility. Love God. Love Others.

My thoughts

As I begin a new Bible study group this fall studying the Pentateuch, I’ve considered this week how to handle Genesis 1-2. Did God create in a literal week? Did He use evolution? Why was woman created? What is the creation mandate for marriage?

I know how I used to teach these things. What is the right way for today? How will I react when someone differs, or passionately clings to their understanding and condemns mine? Will I bristle at the labels: biblical, clear teaching, plain meaning and traditional? Can I express the liberal truth of inclusion in a humble way? I know what I used to think of those who believe like I do now…can I take the judgement myself?

Science and faith

History astonishes me. Because we usually repeat it.

Everyone once believed the earth was the center of our solar system. Why? Because the Bible said so. The world cannot be moved. It is firm and secure. It is held by strong pillars. (Psalm 93:1 Psalm 96:10 Psalm 104:5 Job 9:6 Psalm 75:3 1 Samuel 2:8) Science was proving the earth revolved around the sun. But because that “theory” went against the “clear” teaching of Scripture, that theory must be condemned as un-biblical and wrong. The people who believed it were accused of being in sin, rebellious and anti-God.

 “Those who assert that ‘the earth moves and turns’…[are] motivated by ‘a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;’ possessed by the devil, they aimed ‘to pervert the order of nature.'” `John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), A. 72  (Read the whole article here.)

Sound familiar? Evolution, genetics, brain chemistry and homosexuality are being probed by science. Does the science match our understanding of “clear” biblical teaching? If not, how do we respond? Like Calvin? I know I have…

…but now, I am humbled by my ignorance. And I am motivated to understand more. I am cautious about dogmatics. And I hope to love those in a different stage than I am with kindness, patience and sometimes simple silence. It is better to be quiet than to argue, namecall, or  condemn.

Simple silence

It is so hard.

4 thoughts on “Be careful what you say

  1. It’s hard to be tolerant of the intolerant, especially since the reason I left their ranks is that I became certain that being that way was wrong. . .

    Your words are pithy and much appreciated, K, for if I am not tolerant of them, can I really say I have left the ranks of the intolerant?

    *wanders off to remove plank from my eye. Again*


  2. I was waiting for you to post on gender stuff so I could post this, but I will anyway:

    Perhaps the sexes are more closely related that one would think. Perhaps this great renewal of the world will consist of this, that man and woman, freed of all confused feelings and desires, shall no longer seek each other as opposites, but simply as members of a family and neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to simply, earnestly, patiently, and jointly bear the heavy responsibility of sexuality that has been entrusted to them.

    – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

    And more to the point of this post. Rilke is talking about “works of art” but in some ways it applies to people.

    There is nothing that manages to influence a work of art less than critical words. They always result in more or less unfortunate misunderstandings. Things are not as easily understood nor as expressible as people usually would like us to believe.

    – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s