How Then Shall We Engage?
Worldviews and opinions collide. This is an inescapable reality and the notion that everyone and their views can each be equally correct is illogical. However, vitriol is not the way forward in discussing issues and faithfully pursuing truth. How then shall we engage? Christians can navigate a better path forward by engaging biblically, intelligently, and graciously.
Where does the framework with which we engage scripture come from? If we are the originators of the interpretive framework, then don’t we create a cyclical system that just gives us the interpretation we want or already subconsciously had? It seems to me that doing the hard work of rightly dividing the word of truth has to begin with some presuppositions that transcend ourselves if we are going to arrive at a conclusion/interpretation that is more than the product of our opinions and biases.
Everyone approaches issues with presuppositions. Admitting our own biases and being intentional about allowing the scripture to shape our thinking is essential. This leads to perhaps the greatest and simplest element of Christians engaging with others. The Bible is our sufficient, authoritative, and reliable source of truth and must be acknowledged as such. This is not popular; however, it is necessary if we are to transcend the limits of our finite reasoning and the noetic effects of the fall.
In these days of polarized and relativized views, it is unwise for Christians to engage with others uninformed. In addition to being biblically informed (our primary responsibility), we also need to be culturally, scientifically, politically, and philosophically informed. This isn’t to say that those who lack training in philosophy, for example, should not have or voice their opinion. However, before doing so they should be certain that their opinion is more than a reiterated view of a leader or a tired Christian catchphrase.
When Christians articulate their views in a manner that is uninformed they bring needless stumbling blocks to the conversation. Naturally, some will view a Christian’s perspective as inherently uninformed, but this is the unavoidable and joyful call of followers of Christ.
It is quite amazing how simply stating words can spark stark disagreement, anger, and even hatred. It is quite disheartening when Christians articulate their worldview and its implications devoid of the grace that transformed their lives. So, how can Christians disagree, stand for their beliefs, and honor God in the process? Engage graciously.
Admittedly, differing views of scripture will lead to differing views on most issues; however, even in this believers must be gracious in their articulation of defending scripture and all issues shaped from this perspective. Tim Keller offers great advice for finding this balance.
Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) July 22, 2014
Christians don’t have to be ashamed of their confidence in God’s word or the beliefs that this forms. However, they should engage all issues in a manner that is faithful to scripture, well thought out, and gracious to those with whom they engage.