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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning in Disagreement

Criticism, confusion and false conclusions are an unfortunate byproduct of living in a fallen world. The internet isn't helping. Pure text--what should be the realm of ideas and ideas alone--is too easily misunderstood. We read intention, inflection and inference into structure, grammar and the ambiguity of connotation.

Worse yet, we can post our position to our fans and ignore the raving lunatics on the other side. They, of course, are doing the same thing by ignoring our inane drivel. We never have to actually hash out a debate with someone. We do not need to address their concerns before raising our own. And if all else fails, we can always point out how our opponent's views lead to death or damnation and we win!

How, then, do we have a meeting of the minds? How do we communicate if we have a fundamental disagreement about truth? If you are convinced--even rightly so--that I am dimwit, and I feel that you that you are ignoring my irrefutable argument, we're not going to get anywhere.

In light of recent events, I've started to wonder: How do we hope to be "winsome ambassadors for Christ" when people who fundamentally agree with one another can't reach common ground? As far as I can tell from briefly reading both sides, the disagreement comes down to: You said something mean and you shouldn't have/I merely told it like it is.

How do we judge such a situation?

That is crazy hard to do. ...if not completely impossible.

Over my years here at Sonlight, I have witness numerous such exchanges on the Forums and in emails. It's so easy to get defensive, to lash out. The harsh words of others burn. Still, the nagging question is always: How do we learn in such situations? Why don't we? And how do we tell when someone is simply clearly mistaken about us? And how do we help them see the truth?

Please continue to pray that Christians everywhere would be wise in how we speak, gracious in how we respond, and grow from the points of tension. May we never use the frustration and pain to dig ourselves deeper into our resolve to continue believing we are right at the cost of seeking truth.

The question I've never heard answered is this: If you and I disagree about truth, how do we find it?

What do you think?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Jill in Kentucky said...

I think that no one but God really knows the absolute truth and we see dimly now, what then we will see face to face.

We can read the Bible and agree with what it says, but very sincere Christians of all flavors can reasonably disagree with what it means.

Ahh, there is the rub--what does it mean?

When my husband was in a very conservative and well respected seminary many of the professors talked negatively about the beliefs and teachings of another very conservative and well respected seminary of a different denomination--as if our seminary had full knowledge. And you know what, the other seminary did the same toward us.

I agree with Jay Wile. Why can't we discuss things in a reasonable way and have respect for each other, rather than disparaging others?

It is very sad and I am sorry the body of Christ cannot have more unity and cannot love each other even when we disagree. disagreement.

Cheri said...

Jill, you said exactly what I was thinking.

Luke, this post and your questions are very timely for me. It may sound too simplistic, but I think we just need to love others where they're at. It's not easy when some are just plain mean-spirited with "holier than thou" attitudes. Some people, no matter what you say, are never going to listen to any thoughts that differ from theirs.

I think we need to also be realistic that not everyone is going to agree with us either. The kingdom of God is huge and like Jill stated, sincere Christians of all flavors can reasonably disagree some tough issues. We learn from each other by really listening and investing time into one another. I wish more people would really take the time to get to know someone who they have a fundamental disagreement - they may find out that they're not an idiot and really do strive to love and serve God too.

In a nutshell, we just need to love our neighbor- it is as simple and hard as that :-)

Melinda S. said...

Thank you, Luke, for this gentle reproof. I've been very frustrated this week by a couple of discussions I've been in, and I needed to read this.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

I think the real fear is that changing one's mind in light of a good argument would be seen as "compromise" and losing face. There is also the thought that one does not want to "sit under" bad teaching. I am not sure where the line is between hearing an argument out and "sitting under" someone's teaching.

Also, if one's theological understanding becomes wrapped up with the unchanging Word of God, of course anyone with a different opinion is a heretic or worse! Though I appreciated the spirit of the pdf from the Cincinnati homeschool folks, though I'm sure plenty of people will be disappointed that Mr. Ham will not be at the convention.

Luke Holzmann said...

Great points, friends! It is very sad and frustrating when there is not unity in the Body of Christ. ...of course, I guess some could argue that there is unity in the Body of Christ and everyone who does not agree is simply not part of the Body. That's internally consistent and everything <smile>.

And, as one who works for a company that has been "disinvited" from events in the past, I realize this is a painful break for all parties involved. The question, again, is how do we get to the heart of the issue?


Lynn said...

Luke said, "as one who works for a company that has been "disinvited" from events in the past,..."

Hmm, maybe now CHEC will scoop up Ham for *their* convention. (I'd venture to guess that they'd eagerly agree with his "wake up call to the Homeschool movement to carefully discern who should be at such conferences and what materials should be endorsed.")

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...


It's their convention and their choice to invite or NOT invite anyone they choose. I've been to conferences that address issues from a perspective with which I disagree.

I go, don't attend the "workshop," and buy stuff I'm interested in buying. I don't see why everyone has to get so upset about it, yk? I don't think conventions are really "endorsing" a given curriculum so much as ensuring that those that are presented meet their own guidelines. Obviously one cannot homeschool with 15 different curriculums at once. :)

Well... I guess you could... but it would be confusing...

Cheri said...

Luke, you ask way to hard questions for a Friday :-)

This is one of those times where I say, I just don't know. Sometimes you've just got to be ok without having all the answers.

By the way, I just received the catalog today. Great job! I love how your mom explains her vision for each core- that's my favorite. And, it helps that a picture of my little girl is in the catalog too :-)

Luke Holzmann said...

Thanks, Mrs. C. This has been a crazy situation. I'm interested to see how it all pans out in the end.

And I'm glad you're loving the new catalog, Cheri! <smile>



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