Last week, I had the opportunity to dialogue at length with a dear Christian couple about our theological differences. The time was well spent, and I was challenged to present (not defend) my perspectives on a list of very fundamental Christian beliefs, such a the Trinity, the divinity of Messiah, and the function of the Gospel.
I have to admit that I had a lot of fun. The conversation was mature and open-minded, not argumentative or defensive. The husband was very well versed in sayings of the Master while remaining firmly grounded in his Protestant Evangelical interpretations. I, on the other hand, strove to offer insights that only a Jewish perspective on the Scriptures could provide–while admitting that I too had once espoused the same views they shared with me.
At no point did I feel as though I needed to defend myself, and I worked with great effort to reassure the other couple that I was not taking an offensive approach. Instead, we were dialoguing about our differences with the understanding that certain, very basic fundamentals were held in common.
The interaction was refreshing and exhilarating, and it left me convinced that I am prepared–at least on some level–to offer an explanation for the hope that is in me (1 Peter 3:15). We should all embrace these theological conversations with open hearts and open minds. They challenge our faith and our preparedness. And we should not fear engaging with those that see Scripture differently. Iron only sharpen iron when the two engage from different perspectives.
Growing up, I was often made to feel that we should only engage with doctrines we share, as if those who think differently are somehow dangerous. This applied not only to people from other religions but also to other denominations within Christianity. What a notion! What better way is there for the Adversary to foment discord and separation than to convince us that we must isolate ourselves against differing opinions and interpretations?
Today, consider your opportunities to engage with others that think differently. If you are siloed in your own worldview, then it is time to break free of safe-room you have built around your own opinions, interpretations, traditions, and dogma.