Thursday, March 17, 2011

Upside Down

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:9

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." - 1 Cor. 1:25

"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." - Romans 1:22

In these and many other passages, the biblical authors remind us of the limits of our own intellects and of our need for God in all things. Although these verses often use nonbelievers as object lessons, it would be a dire mistake for Christians to view them as cause to look down on those who don't share our beliefs (as Romans 2:1 vividly reminds us). If nothing else, the countless disputes that have occurred over the millennia over every conceivable point of doctrine should remind us how prone we still are toward error and short-sightedness.

How sad is it, then, when we conscript verses meant to call us to humility into the service of our pride by using them as weapons to silence those who disagree with us. How tragic the irony, when reminders of our own fallibilty are used instead to bolster our faith in the infallibility of our doctrinal positions. Instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with those who disagree with us and humbly considering evidence that may contradict our interpretations of God's will, we close our ears to all of those voices, attributing anything we don't want to hear to the machinations of the devil.

At the same time we demand submission from everyone around us, and cry "persecution!" when they refuse. Our self-inflicted isolation further reinforces our belief in the absolute rightness of our own dogmas, and distracts us from noticing our hearts growing cold as our own certainty replaces God as the focus of our devotion. In time we become the very nonbelievers we think we look down upon, all the while believing ourselves to be wise.

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