-A mini-post for time-starved individuals
In this upside-down political season and boiling morass of religious and atheistic claims, how are we to judge or evaluate the merits and demerits of a religious, political, or even an academic system of claims or beliefs?
Judge? Yes, judge. We are to “first remove the log from our own eye, so we see clearly…”
Back to the original question. How are we to judge value systems?
There are many ways to evaluate the truthfulness of a system of thought:
- Logical Consistency
- Empirical Adequacy
- Experiential relevance.
But I want to alert you to one more:
4. The treatment of dissenters.
“How does this political system, religious system, or academic discipline treat those with opposing views?”
This will tell you a lot about the internal confidence of the adherents of this belief system. Do they have confidence in their system and confidence in YOU to be able to hear their reasons and respond with respect to their arguments?
Or do they berate you for asking questions? Do they threaten you with punishment? Do they call you names?
Important caveat! Rude adherents do not negate the truthfulness of a system of thought, and calm adherents do not prove a system to be true. But one can only have a discussion about items 1-3 above with someone who is confident enough to calmly dialog about their beliefs.
I am struck by Jesus instructions to his students (disciples) in Luke 10.
When you enter any town, and they don’t welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘We are wiping off as a witness against you even the dust of your town that clings to our feet. Know this for certain: The kingdom of God has come near.’ [Luke 10:10-11 HCSB]
Notice that it is up to God to deal with dissent, not us. They were not told to burn down the town, to call the town names, to publish a list of towns to boycott, etc.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. [Ephesians 6:12 HCSB]
We are to speak the truth with gentleness and respect, living a life that is above reproach, and suffering for doing good if that is the outcome.
And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [1 Peter 3:13-17 HCSB]
Wow. Compare the Biblical response to dissenting views with those on the political left, the social left, the climate machine, the in-your-face right, the radical Islamists, the nationalists and non-nationalists in Germany, the anarchist protestors, BLM, BDS, SJWs, and on and on.
Are they able to make the case for their beliefs using 1, 2, and 3 above? Or do they tell you to “shut up and get in line”?
When the church has said, “shut up and get in line”, it has harmed the witness of Christ. When it has given a defense with gentleness and respect, it has advanced.
Check yourself. Learn to make a case for your views and resist the urge to belittle your opposition. Argue the facts. Focus on reality not feelings or fantasy. And with God’s help, be good.