A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Because You Disagree

Henry Neufeld has published a post listing five websites he reads regularly, not in spite of the fact he often disagrees with the writers, but because he disagrees. He also explains why he disagrees, but continues to read.

I think more people should be like Henry in this regard. It is too easy for us to insulate and relegate ourselves to the safety of the like minded. Political conservatives watch only FOX News, political progressives watch only MSNBC. Evangelicals read only evangelical theology, liberals read only liberal theology. Frankly, I think the refusal to open ourselves up to other points of view and consider different perspectives results in a limited and miserable existence. I suspect that many people box themselves into such a narrow frame of reference because while they may have the courage of their convictions, they lack the confidence of their convictions. They may be afraid that someone might indeed challenge their sacred cow assumptions in a way they can no longer hold on to them with integrity. They prefer indoctrination to education.

There are issues on which I have changed my mind over the years. A significant reason for this is because I was willing to entertain differing perspectives that assisted me in revising my views. There are other perspectives on which I have remained steadfast. As a Christian, the issue for me is not protecting my beliefs by walling myself off into an intellectual fortress of like mindedness, but rather as one believes that Jesus Christ embodies the truth, I must be tireless in my pursuit of the truth. I cannot pursue the truth if I refuse to entertain other perspectives.

Years ago I was speaking with an elderly gentlemen. During our discussion the topic turned to this very subject. He said to me that at one time he would read and listen to voices with opinions different from his own, but that now in his old age he knew what he believed and he didn't need to be challenged anymore. Thus to continue to entertain different perspectives was now a waste of his time.

I'm glad that in his twilight years he had it all figured out. I doubt that I will be so fortunate. So, like Henry I will continue to follow some websites, some pundits, and some bloggers, not in spite of the fact that I disagree, but because I disagree.


Bruce said...

This is a wonderful statement of not only an honest entertainment of ideas not your own, but a great way to continue growing in faith and life. Not only will one discover opposing ideas with similar assumptions, but one gains a sense of the humanity of those with different theology. There is no need to fear different positions. I have been enriched by listening and diologue with those of other opinions. I have not been forced to give up central theological convictions. I have gained a broader perspective and deeper insight into faith and theology. Great post.

Dan Smitley said...

Are you just going to leave us hanging like that? We want a list of the blogs you read because you disagree as well. I think there needs to be a Part 2 of this post.


Unknown said...

A famous quote for years has been "Know your enemy" and one very close to that is "keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" To me the latter statement implies understanding how and what your enemy thinks. From another tact, if all you read is what you agree with in the first place, you never learn anything new and you do not grom.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comment, but I have decided not to answer.

I will say that if you look through the blogs I have listed on the right hand side of my blog, you will note that there is quite a variety of perspectives.

Too many bloggers list only the blogs they like. I have decided not to so limit myself.