There’s a very interesting (although slightly technical-language heavy) essay on theology and search for truth at Focus on the Family’s TrueU.org sight for college students. The author, Michael Bauman, makes a point which I have often thought/observed myself – that too often Christians become servants of their theology to the point where they are unable to acknowledge or deal productively with anything which is contrary to what they already believe. These are people who measure truth against their own theology, rather than measuring their own theology against truth. If something doesn’t fit into their understanding, then either it is simply incorrect, no matter the evidence to the contrary, or if what does not fit is from scriptures, then that scripture is manipulated, pushed, pulled and explained until it can be made to fit. Mr. Bauman puts forth his prescription for avoiding this all too common trap:
In short, we ought to be biblical, skeptical, objective and tolerant. That is, while we have the record of the very revelation of God in our hands, we must remember it will always be interpreted and applied by our own fallible minds. The Bible itself is infallible and indefectible; we are not. We try to walk and talk according to our Bibles – and we should. But, we are lisping and lame.
To such guides as we have proven ourselves to be, the best response is to be skeptical about what we hear advanced as truth and open-minded and loving toward those who advance it. We ought to listen carefully to what we are told and to evaluate it according to the best workings of our mind and senses. But, in so doing, we ought never to lose our love and appreciation for those whose words and ideas we so carefully scrutinize.
I especially like his advise about how we approach those with whom we disagree:
Theological exploration is a difficult, even dicey, matter at best – one that we must not complicate by constantly shooting at other explorers. Giving aid and comfort and modest advice to fellow travelers is one thing; to treat them like the enemy is another. This is not to say we have no enemies. We do. A lot of us just don’t know who they are, and we begin to shoot at anything that moves, or at least that moves in a way different from our own. We have forgotten, apparently, that not only does our enemy move, but so also do our friends and fellow travelers.