Can we all just get along?

It saddens me, and I find it ironic, that Christians sometimes get nasty toward one another when disagreeing about theology. After all, Christian theology is the study of the Triune God who declares himself to be love!

Of course, many people are passionate about theology (it takes one to know one!). However, the nature of theology is that it is "faith seeking understanding"--not faith that has arrived at perfect understanding. God alone is perfect, and good theology (even if imperfect) accurately points to him, and thus away from itself.

Because our theological formulations are inherently imperfect, there have arisen within the historic, orthodox Christian faith multiple theological streams that diverge on certain points. This is so even though the proponents of these streams embrace the same orthodox Christian doctrines (as summarized in the ancient creeds). So what are we to do? Well, I don't think we need to lay aside our theological distinctives and the disagreements that arise. Rather, I think that what is needed is that we learn to relate to each other (especially when we disagree) with love, respect and common understanding.
Professor Thomas McCall

Dr. Thomas McCall, one of my favorite professors during my time at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, wrote about this in a recent article in Trinity Magazine ("Searching for the Historical Harmenzoon: Understanding Jacob Arminius", pp12-15, Spring 2013)The article addressed the theology of Jacob Arminius (father of Arminianism). McCall's primary goal was to urge people from all theological traditions to take another, more fully informed look at this theology. However, he also had a secondary goal, namely to call for a more respectful dialog between Christians who hold differing theological viewpoints. Here is the article's conclusion:
Whether or not one agrees with every point of [Arminius'] theology (or the exegesis or argumentation supporting it), and whether or not one agrees that the Reformed theologians at the Synod of Dordt (1619) were correct to place "Arminian" theology outside the boundaries of acceptable theology. Christians who retain interest in these debated issues would do well to understand the theology of Arminius better. Maybe a sharper understanding of the issues and the controversies will help all of us appreciate better those with whom we may disagree. Perhaps a better understanding of Arminius will help us all to see that one need not be "anti-Reformed" to be a non-Reformed or that "Arminians" might not be a grave threat to Christian orthodoxy. Maybe it will remind us of the vast tracts of common ground held by Christians on various "sides" of these issues, of the need for mutual understanding and of the importance of charity. Maybe it will remind us of the possibility that we might be mistaken--and that these issues might not be the most important theological matters. And perhaps it will even enable us to see better our own sinfulness--and at the same time the greatness and goodness of the triune God.
Thanks Professor McCall, and may we all (yours truly, included) heed your wise words and, if needed, mend our ways.

Comments

  1. Thanks Ted
    It is all about LOVE isn't it?
    For most of us (including myself) need to learn to live love again and again, then doors of understanding will open our true freedom to love.

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  2. Sadly, we are more interested in "what" is the truth than in "who" is the truth. When we view our differences in the light of the grace of God, many areas of contention become vastly less important. Many believers will shut their ears to a "different" opinion, which is much of the reason we are viewed in such a negative light by the "unenlightened". I recently had a candid and open conversation with a young woman concerning why abortions should or should not be legal and walked away with a better understanding of the pro-abortion point of view. It didn't change my mind as to what I consider "right" and "wrong", but it helped me to have a bit more compassion for those who don't see things from my perspective.

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