Disagreeing without Demonizing
Christians sometimes aren’t the best at handling disagreement. Conservative Christians are often the worst. Have you ever been in a situation where two people disagree over some (non-essential) theological issue, and very quickly the blood starts to boil, faces turn red, and it’s not long before one’s character is slandered all because he or she held to a different view?
Or worse, have you ever been in a setting where the tension is thick and no one knows what to say? One person has said something that everyone else disagrees with. And since no one knows how to have a healthy discussion in the context of unity, everyone maintains an awkward silence with a matching posture.
Even worse, have you ever been in a classroom or living room where everyone is on the same page on some issue—you’re all Calvinists, or Charismatic, or Premillenial, or whatever. And rather than trying to understand the view you all disagree with, you sit around and caricature the other side, demonize those who hold it, and pat each other on the back for getting it right while all those other poor, less intelligent, and less biblical fellows “out there” have it all wrong?
Me too. That’s why I love teaching at Eternity Bible College. We don’t do that here. We don’t train our students to slam on other views, nor do we teach them to memorize the right answers. We’re here to educate, not indoctrinate. Rather than telling them what to think, we saturate our students in God’s word and lead them discover the truth for themselves in the context of community, discussion, and yes—disagreement.
Because in disagreement, we are forced to reconsider our views. We are pushed to think a bit deeper, more critically, about what we think we know. In disagreement, we are driven back to Scripture to make sure that what we think the Bible says is actually what the Bible says. Sometimes it’s not.
This is why we’ve decided to do a few more posts on the question about Ezekiel’s temple prophecy (Ezek. 40-48). Last week, I wrote a few blogs about what I think the Bible says about how Ezekiel’s temple prophecy will be fulfilled. However, in no way do I want to give the impression that this is the only view that has biblical merit. In fact, there are other views promoted here at Eternity and I love this diversity! This is why I’ve asked Josh Grauman (Associate Professor of Hebrew, Old Testament, New Testament, Greek, and everything else that has to do with God, Jesus, the Spirit, and the Bible) to write a couple of posts defending a different view than the one I promoted. Because here at Eternity, you’ll hear both perspectives and you’ll be forced to believe what the Bible says—not what Josh or Preston say—about this doctrinal issue and that theological debate.
By way of introduction, Josh Grauman is one of the smartest guys I know—and I’ve been around a lot of smart people. While most of us are out surfing, playing Xbox, or watching reruns of Lost, Josh is meticulously pouring over the original languages of the Bible. He has translated more than half of the Bible from the original languages and has taught classes on nearly every book of the Bible. He wrote his own Hebrew language textbook; he developed his own Bible software called Scroll Tag. And he’s thought deeply about how Ezekiel’s temple prophecy will be fulfilled.
So I encourage you to read the Josh’s posts carefully. Then go back and read my 3 posts carefully. Then go back and study Ezekiel 40-48 even more carefully. I love Josh like a brother and respect his views immensely. And even though he’s wrong about Ezekiel’s temple (gotta have some fun with it!), I hope that we all, including myself, will be driven back to God’s sacred word yet again, so that our views are grounding in the text and not in our tradition.