I’m fairly positive that I have a “theological debate sensor” located somewhere in my body that tends to go off whenever I come across an opportunity to get deep with someone. A difficult topic gets brought up (such as God in the Old Testament not seeming to match up with our modern sensibilities) and I’m buzzing! I’m all like “Lets go! Lets discuss! Lets figure this out! Lets get heated and emotional and confused and elated! Lets talk!” More often than not though, those times come when I’m online. Facebook and Reddit are dangerous places to be when you’re someone that likes to pull no punches in theological discussion.
And then I remember that online communication doesn’t convey tone or facial expression. It just doesn’t communicate our communication the way we want it communicated. I then get sad because the opportunity is gone just as quickly as it came. I can’t help but wonder if the effort of setting aside time for debate is worth it.
Side Note: Debate is such a dirty word: I bet when you think of debate you’re thinking about getting so into a conversation that feelings are hurt afterwards and neither party sees the event as a success unless Team 2 changed their stance to more accurately reflect Team 1. Am I right? I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about respectfully engaging with another person’s ideas and where, even if you have not changed your position at the end, you are still thinking about what the other person said.
After thinking about it, I have to conclude that discussion and conversation are worth the effort of engaging in. Part of the topic that spurred on this post was that of the “angry God” of the Old Testament and how he doesn’t fit in with the God of the New Testament (loving, forgiving, etc). Lets be honest: this is a hard topic! Because, when you really sit down and read the Bible, there are parts that don’t make sense on the first, second, third, or fiftieth read-through. But we (generalizing the American church culture here) don’t like to think about those things – those things aren’t easy to digest like a 20 minute Veggie Tales video. We’re not sure of what to make of those topics so we explain them away and shrug off those who have real questions.
We don’t communicate.
Or worse, we COMMUNICATE. PERIOD. (You know what I’m talking about: those posts on Facebook that make you think “yea, I’m not going near that topic.” When confronted with an honest question (or one that it just meant to get a rise out of us) we tend to leave no room for discussion which then solidifies the world’s view of Christ and his church: that we’re pious jerks who will sooner post some snotty religious picture on facebook than communicate face to face.
Actually, maybe I’m wrong: we do communicate…but what we’re communicating is garbage.
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The above image is taken from the film “The Last Samurai” during a scene which is ended with Katsumoto (the one in the background) saying “I have introduced myself. You have introduced yourself. This is a very good conversation.”
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