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Author: Henry Neufeld

The Importance of Being Questioned

The Importance of Being Questioned

When I’m having a discussion of something about which I have some expertise, say biblical languages, it’s quite easy to get impressed with myself. After all, unlike the “average person” (actually, I don’t believe in average people, hence, the quotes, but that’s another subject*), If I am in doubt of a translation in scripture, or simply hear another person talk about a Greek or Hebrew word, I can actually go check. I may even know of various places that word is used.

*(I hate excessively long parenthetical remarks, don’t you?)

Fortunately for my swollen head, there is a remedy to this. I can go to a seminary campus, or join a group dedicated to biblical languages, where one often finds people who earn their living teaching or researching, and I’ll be put in my place fairly quickly. How? Because in that atmosphere people question my conclusions. I may not change them, but I have to think about them and about alternatives.

As salutary as reducing the size of my head might be, that is not the most important benefit. (Your mileage may vary.) The most important benefit is that it helps me not to get stuck on pet conclusions. I hear about potential difficulties with my conclusions from people who think differently, who know facts I may have missed, or who may just have ordered and prioritized data differently.

My think is challenged.

By responding positively to such a challenge, I may be able to improve my thinking, and (gasp) change my mind!

But here are some things to avoid:

  1. Getting offended. There is such a thing as offensive speech, but much of what is called offensive is simply something presented from a different perspective, which I’d rather not hear. Offense blocks learning.
  2. Doubling down. When presented with a contrary opinion, I need to examine the evidence and the logic and see if I need to change my mind. If not, no problem. Doubling down is a technique to emphasize my superior rightness over someone else.
  3. Dismissing. It doesn’t hurt to think about what someone else has said. It doesn’t hurt to tell the other person you’ll think about it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for every argument. What I can do is listen and then keep the ideas in mind over time.
  4. Equalizing. There are many things on which opinions are just fine, and it’s OK to say, “To each his or her own.” But on many topics, the different viewpoints are in no way equal.
  5. Despising. It’s easy to dismiss the other person because you already despised them. It’s also easy to despise them because of their opinion. Despising let’s you out of considering the opinions of such a worthless person. You are the only one to lose.
  6. Labeling. It’s easy to call someone a name, or group them with people you already reject. In politics we can call the other guy “just a Democrat” or “just a Republican” or whatever party labels apply in your country. We can also call someone a socialist or a capitalist (whichever is negative in our mind) in order to dismiss a particular idea. It’s not that labels are bad. Rather, all of language involves labeling in some way. The thing is that labeling needs to be accurate, and not dismissive.

I think the goal should be to be able to have strong opinions without despising the people who disagree. That’s not easy. The tendency is to either have strong opinions on something and dismiss your opponents, or to try to equalize all opinions. Either one can deprive you of valuable, constructive, necessary dialog.

Technical Discussion via Zoom for Amateur Radio Operators

Technical Discussion via Zoom for Amateur Radio Operators

My brother, Robert Neufeld, amateur radio operator N3AU, who also has pretty much every commercial radio license and is a lifetime electronics hobbyist, is going to host a zoom technical discussion each Thursday night at 8 pm eastern time. He plans to have it run around an hour +/- depending on what questions people have.

You can email him at rjneufeldmd@gmail.com if you’d like information about the meeting.
The first session is tonight, March 25, 2021.

de KT4B

Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need

Starting on Martin Luther King’s birthday, we have seen a number of quotes advocating love. I intended to post something that day, but as I frequently do I got diverted.

I wrote something about this long ago. It’s unfortunate that love has become a sort of cliche for a benevolent feeling combined with inaction. We can post comments about love and unity, and then go on doing what we were going to do anyhow.

I wrote about this back in 2006 in a post titled On Being a Love Preacher. I still am.

But love isn’t easy. I fail at it on a daily basis. That’s why I’m also a grace preacher. Grace deals with our failure to love.

The next error follows quickly after. Grace is not an alternative to sanctification. It isn’t a way to get out of being transformed. It’s not grace vs holiness. Rather, grace is the one means by which sanctification can happen. Wesleyans call it “sanctifying grace.” But all too often we pretend that sanctifying grace is something other than grace. It’s nice to have all those labels for grace applied in different ways at different times. But we can also forget that some of them are grace.

Sanctification is God working in you. It begins with God’s love and spreads through you. It is very active. It is not easy, any more than love is.

I hope that we don’t just comfort ourselves with quotes about love in action, but rather begin to see others through God’s work in us. Recognizing our limitations and failures and the way God has worked with us, we let grace sanctify the way we see our neighbors.

In the incarnation, God crossed the greatest gap possible, from the infinite to the finite, indeed miniscule on the scale of the finite. Your differences with your neighbor cover much less ground than God already covered.

The same gap crossing God can work in me, and in you.

Featured Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

And Yet Another Week

And Yet Another Week

I’m delaying the restart of my studies on Paul for another week. This week was not conducive to getting ready.

I will be starting by applying the study of the law that I presented before thanksgiving to Galatians 2 & 3, particularly chapter 3. How should we understand law as we read these chapters.

I will be making the presentation live on Facebook on the Henry and Jody Neufeld page and simultaneously streaming it to the Energion Publications Facebook page. I will continue to post the video and the PowerPoint to this blog.

I apologize for twice delaying the restart.

As Everyone Trades Scripts – Again

As Everyone Trades Scripts – Again

Immediately after the last election I wrote this. Please read it before you read this.

I want to reiterate it today. I have meant it sincerely following every election in which I have been a voter, and I registered to vote at the first opportunity.

Speaking with respect is not agreement. It is a way to maximize the range of dialog. I believe deeply in the value of dialog, even with people who I may believe have not earned respect. Those in the military learn how to show respect to someone they may not respect because of that person’s rank and position. That could be a valuable lesson.

Especially with people who have not earned respect.