There are few things in the world of politics that interest me but one thing that does are process crimes. Let’s say Senator Smith is being investigated for money laundering and tax evasion. They bring her in, put her under oath and ask her umpteen zillion questions. During the questioning she tells several lies and nothing else is found to believe she is guilty of the initial charges. But now they have her for perjury.
Process crimes are real crimes with real consequences.
I believe we have an issue with process crimes in our theological conversations. Someone may be 100% right in what they are saying but the way they are going about it is 100% wrong. They have come to a biblical conclusion but their process of communication and discussion isn’t biblical in the least.
If we are going to have a healthy conversation we not only need to seek the truth but we must converse in a way that also honors the scriptures (and there are many scriptures on how we are to treat each other and talk with one another). Being 100% right and being 100% wrong of a process crime in theological conversation is still 100% wrong.
What are process crimes in theological conversation? Here are a few examples. Feel free to add more in the comments.
- Being mean spirited and/or hateful
- Being manipulative
- Misrepresenting another person or their views
If you have to result to these tactics it muddies up your view. No matter how valid your conclusions may be…no matter how accurately they represent the truth, these tactics build walls up against anyone who might have otherwise benefited from your view, much less the actual scriptures themselves. The truth doesn’t need your assistance. As tempting as it is to “win” an argument no matter what it takes, it doesn’t do the truth any good for us to try to lend a helping hand by lending a heavy hand. You cannot both uphold the truth of the scriptures while being dishonest in your approach.
I think part of our reasoning for this is because we feel anxious if people don’t agree with us. It is like we are “less than” when someone disagrees. We take it too personally as if it even matters. So we fight to win and to appease our own sense and inner feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Once we have “won” the debate we feel secure against because everyone knows we are right. Instead we need to focus on issues not people and the truth over personality conflicts. That allows us to assess and discuss issues without feeling anxiety and without being reactionary in the way we handle ourselves in conversation.
The opposite is probably true as well. We might be theologically wrong, but have the right heart and the right approach in love to others.
The question is who is always theologically right in all things and in all ways, even though we think we might be. If we believe Jesus was white, even though he most likely wasn’t, does this make us wrong? God isn’t judging us on our faith in what is translated exactly and correctly, but our faith in Him and our love towards others. Issues are important, but the issues applied with love is perfection, that they become non-issues.
We ought to be able to talk scripture without degrading another and while being humble ourselves in what we know. I don’t know how many times I have discussed, aka argued, with someone about scriptural truth and found out I was wrong in my understanding. I not only was polarized in my opinion of the scripture, but in the veracity of myself.