Monday, 12 November 2012

Violence or confrontation


A quote, doing the rounds on Facebook recently, has been making me think.  The author states that purporting a particular religious view and especially one that claims a personal God and a particular path, is the root of violence and the antithesis of love.  The writer claims that to hold a religious viewpoint creates an ‘us and them’ mentality which leads to division, instead only ‘love’ should be pursued.  It sounds quite noble, but isn’t the writer doing the same thing he accuses Christians, Jews and Muslims of? Is he not in fact saying, those who believe in a personal God are wrong – they are are narrow-minded, they must think like ‘us’, our view of love is broader and better!

The fact is we disagree. We are not all saying the same thing. Christianity is not saying the same thing as Islam or Buddhism or Atheism or Humanism, or whatever belief or non-belief someone may espouse.  There are many different views on life and death and destiny.  However disagreement does not have to result in violence.  Being able to disagree is a liberty I cherish both for myself and others.

I don’t deny that people have chosen to defend their views violently or have attacked other people’s views violently, it is a sad fact of history.  But many have maintained their views and done so without violence.  Jesus, the author of the Christian faith, willingly submitted himself to the violence of the Roman soldiers without defending himself.  He should be the model for all who call themselves Christian.

However, this is not to say that Christianity is not confrontational, it is!  Picture a blind man heading straight for a cliff.  The Christian approaches him and says, “Stop, you’re heading for a cliff, can I show you the way to the bridge?”  Suppose the blind man retorts, “You fool, there are no such things as cliffs or bridges!  God has made it safe to walk in any direction! Don’t try to impose your narrow-minded views on me.”

The Christian may try again and implore the man, “Look, I was blind too once, but now I can see there is a cliff and a bridge and besides that I can see so many beautiful and wonderful things – life is such a different experience now that I have sight, please let me show you! 
At this point the blind man may start to get very annoyed,  “You are deluded, I don’t need this fantasy you call ‘sight’, I have all the information I need about the world and I will continue ahead in this path and any path.  You people who keep insisting on this bridge are narrow-minded, I wish you could leave that thinking and see that we must simply love one another and let one another do as we each please….”

Has the Christian been unloving?

One of the two in this story is wrong.  There are many different views.  They do contradict each other.  They cannot all be right.

When it comes to life and death and destiny, we cannot simply choose the path of least resistance.  We must do due diligence to investigate and find a worldview that holds water.
I will continue to share my view because I am convinced it leads to life.  If you believe yours does, then share it too.  I will defend your right to do so. If we both do it respectfully, and out of concern for each other, then we are acting in love.

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