The Death of the Informed Christian
Your worldview is the sum total of everything you believe to be true whether it is, or not. That includes your biblical worldview, which is truth from God’s perspective.
I was listening to a podcast recently where the host, Preston Sprinkle was interviewing a pastor. One of the men in his church complained that another man in the church had a Black Lives Matter sign in his yard. The couples in their small group thought that was inappropriate for a Christian to associate themselves with that organization.
“It’s true, it could be he supports the organization BLM. Or it could be he just believes black people are entitled to equal protection under the law as whites. I’d suggest you invite him to attend your group and find out why he supports BLM,“ suggested the pastor.
Unfortunately, the man’s answer didn’t surprise him. “We would never invite someone who thought like that to our small group. Why listen to someone we know is wrong?”
Being close-minded is nothing new. That’s been going on forever. Baptists have always been wary of Charismatics and Protestants of Catholics. But being intentionally close-minded and tribal over political, medical and social justice ideas has become almost a virtue with many Christians today. To hold to or even investigate, a different point of view on non-biblical issues other than that of your group is viewed as not only being disloyal to your group, but potentially dangerous.
A friend of mine has always been against vaccines in general, as are a group of close friends. I disagree with them, but that’s their choice. Her children have been reluctant to let this woman visit her grandchildren out of fear that their kids may be exposed. So, she causally mentioned at coffee with a fellow anti-vaxxer friend that she was thinking of getting a Covid shot.
“Are you going to let your children blackmail you into getting a shot?” My friend was shocked. It wasn’t enough for this woman to allow her friend to hold to a different, non-biblical view. It was important enough to shame her into “staying in the tribe.”
I can’t tell you how many raised eyebrows or downright criticism I get when I tell people I listen to CNN, National Public Radio and occasionally read the New York Times. (Pastor Tim Keller does regularly to be informed.) I used to get the “why” question when I told people I visited with a Catholic priest for years to understand why Catholics believed certain things. I’ve had dozens of coffees and meals with LGBT+ people, Christian and non-Christian, Muslims and Jewish people. But those “why” questions were more out of curiosity and without much judgment.
But too many American Christians have taken a, us vs. them on all kinds of issues that use to be an agree to disagree.
So, where do you go from here if this has been your experience as well? Risk being an informed Christian. Not just informed about biblical issues, but about politics, economics, and current events. Be curious! In the book of Acts, Chapter 17 it says Paul spent days in the Areopagus in Athens, the philosophical chatroom of his day. While the Bible doesn’t say, it’s hard to imagine Paul did all the talking. For sure, out of courtesy, he listened to ideas that were totally antithetical to the Bible to win the respect of those he wished to introduce to Christ. He spent days “reasoning with them.”
Invite thoughtful, well-read Christians and non-Christians out to lunch or coffee and listen, especially ones you might disagree with. Debate and discuss. You may learn something new. Don’t be afraid of exploring new ideas. If they are wrong, then you have the opportunity to hone what you believe and how you want to express them In the future.
Just a few weeks ago, I spoke at a small evangelistic gathering. One of the men, a retired lawyer, said he could never believe in a religion that was so close-minded. I invited him to my office for coffee and listened to his rationale’. It turns out his father was a pastor who tolerated no idea that violated his narrow view of the Bible and the world.
I liked this guy. We’ll be meeting again. I’ll try to find common ground first on issues that have nothing to do with the Bible so he trusts me. Christians need to learn to ”play the long game.” The good news is he’s not rejected Jesus, but has simply rejected religion. I am asking the Holy Spirit to give me the wisdom to reason with him.
I have never argued anyone into the Kingdom. I have to remind myself constantly; My job is to explain the gospel and live out the gospel. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convince people it’s true.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6