Dismissing as Wrong

In an article that I find very agreeable, Chaplain Mike of the Internet Monk site discusses the way in which some churches major on the minors, making people who disagree with specific doctrinal positions uncomfortable.

But I want to object to one line in that post, and it’s one I hear frequently in real life as well. It’s this:

Furthermore, the Biblical teaching was pure dogmatism, completely dismissing all other views as wrong.

What I find troubling about the part I highlighted is that there should be any problem with calling a view “wrong.” “Dismissing” I don’t like so much. What you do with a “wrong” idea is study and discuss it. But I think there’s nothing wrong–and much right–with deciding that certain ideas are wrong and other are right.

If I get into a discussion with a young earth creationist I will begin with the fact that I consider him wrong. I assume he considers me wrong as well. Otherwise we would have nothing to discuss. For some reason it seems that many people today think that all ideas must be regarded as equal else one is intolerant or worse. I would suggest instead that tolerance involves tolerating someone I actually think is wrong.

Now in church, regarding someone else as wrong doesn’t mean that I also must regard them as unchristian, out of fellowship, or unworthy of leadership positions. In fact, if I did that, I’d have to make a church of one, and even that would be a problem as I’ve been wrong many times in my life, as evidenced by changing my mind! I was either wrong before or perhaps I’m wrong now.

I’ve disagreed with just about every church budget I’ve seen passed. I’d go so far as to say that some of these budgets are wrong. For example, I think that spending less than 2% on missions and outreach is wrong, and I’m going to call it wrong. I consider it the right thing to do!

I think we need to learn to live together whilst being wrong and working with other people who are wrong. Only when we keep the categories of right and wrong can we try to learn to be more right.

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  1. I suspect what Chaplain Mike meant was that the videos were labelling stuff as obviously wrong that was not obviously wrong.

    There are fewer obviously wrong things in this world than people think. There are lots of obviously badly-thought-out things, but that’s a different problem entirely.

  2. G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

    “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”

    Good advice on how to get along with each other.

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