Nicholas Kristof wrote a great column last month about the segregation of politics. What is that concept? Here’s an excerpt from his column:
That’s because there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.
I see this consistently in the church. People will be furious with another individual (or pastor) over a menial issue of doctrine, a personal dogma, or some tradition. Why is it we cannot have differences of opinion and discuss them amiably? Should people feel so threatened over an issue that is not essential to faith and/or life?
Unfortunately, I don’t think a number of people want to engage with the truth because they might find out they are wrong. The individual’s whole life is seemingly based on some random issue which doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but to them it is life or death because if they are wrong on this issue what else could they be wrong about. As one coworker (Tim Perry) put it, people develop “intellectual squatter’s rights” on beliefs even if the belief is wrong. It doesn’t matter what the evidence says, they’ve believed it for five, ten, twenty, forty years so it must be true.
And, just because you are an expert in one field doesn’t mean you are an expert on the Bible or other Christian matters. Just because you’ve been a Christian a long time doesn’t necessarily mean you have studied the scriptures thoroughly and understand them. It’s like me thinking I should be a general manager in baseball because I played in high school and follow the game. I follow baseball, but I’m not a scout who studies the trends and tendencies of players and teams. I like certain players, but that doesn’t mean I would know how to manage them in game situations. I like the Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean I know what players could handle playing in Boston and would be compatible with their teammates.
Why can’t we have good discourse? Why can’t we converse on issues of doctrine, faith, politics and not end up in shouting matches where we label the other side a fascist or heretic? Why can’t we admit we don’t know everything, especially about God and the Bible?
I thought about this surrounding the recent Cosmic Fingerprints event we had here at Christ Community Church. I can understand why some people were concerned about the event, but the hysterics and vitriol a small minority indulged in to try and get the event shutdown was embarrassing. Allegedly, there were “lots of people” who were ready to leave the church over the event. At one point a staff member was told “600 people” were ready to leave the church. Really? Just because we are bringing in an acclaimed and respected scientist/pastor (Dr. Hugh Ross) who teaches a different opinion on creation than what is traditionally accepted in American evangelical churches? What part of core doctrine, Christianity or denomination wise, states you have to believe in a certain interpretation of creation?
I was glad the leadership did not back down on the matter. The team from Reasons to Believe, who came and shared, said it is not uncommon for churches to bring them in but then back out of having them speak to the church on Sunday mornings due to pressure from some in the congregation. I was glad it didn’t happen here.
I also think because of the event it further establishes CCC as a place where you can come and discourse on matters of faith, life, science and more. This has already been established with Gathering, our Sunday service where there is a Q&A session where any question can be asked. The weekend of Cosmic Fingerprints we had a surge in attendance (just under 3,800) with many skeptics, agnostics and atheists attending. Throughout the weekend people were asking questions they normally would be afraid to ask. Response to the event was tremendous.
Are there people upset we still had the event? Yes. They think the church is becoming “liberal” because we allow this kind of teaching into the church. Teaching that doesn’t agree with their presuppositions. I can only hope and pray they realize what an amazing opportunity and situation they have at hand with a church that allows for the freedom and safety to ask tough questions.
I had wanted to post something on this for awhile, but hadn’t made the time to do so. Then I made the remarks about John MacArthur’s opinion of Mark Driscoll in my last blog post. I didn’t say anthing to disparage MacArthur, but I did say I find his opinion faulty. I would hope we can do more of the same, in the church, instead of fire-bombing one another with slanderous attacks and reflecting hate to the world around us.
Some final quotes from Kristof’s column to end this post.
One 12-nation study found Americans the least likely to discuss politics with people of different views, and this was particularly true of the well educated. High school dropouts had the most diverse group of discussion-mates, while college graduates managed to shelter themselves from uncomfortable perspectives.
The decline of traditional news media will accelerate the rise of The Daily Me, and we’ll be irritated less by what we read and find our wisdom confirmed more often. The danger is that this self-selected “news” acts as a narcotic, lulling us into a self-confident stupor through which we will perceive in blacks and whites a world that typically unfolds in grays.