Tolerating Questions

If anyone had any doubts about Ben Affleck getting into the role of Batman, those fears can be allayed. He goes after what he views as justice like the Caped Crusader pursuing the Joker.

Too bad the real joke is his viewpoint.

What am I talking about?

It’s been my experience that we in the Right-wing Christian community love to see militant Islam called out for its sins.

Sometimes that makes people uncomfortable, as it may come across like we’re judging every Muslim by the bad apples… something we hate to see done to Christians. Comparisons might be made to Westboro Baptist Church, for example, or to the most recent televangelist or big name involved in a scandal. And we say, “But we’re not like that.”

What if the available data show that we are?

Recently I watched a portion of a Bill Maher show about Islam, and what (and to what extent) it motivates its adherents to do or support.

I’m not exactly a fan of Bill Maher or Sam Harris. But facts are facts, and statistical data are statistical data. We use these tools for a reason–they more accurately reflect reality than our biases and assumptions do.

For example, one person might be afraid of every Muslim that crosses their path, because “you never know.” Another might assume any Muslim encountered in the West is likely a moderate, friendly person willing to live peaceably with others, because why else would they be here?

But Bill Maher and Sam Harris address certain inclinations among a broad range of Muslims, based on surveys and poll data. And they get called out rather vehemently by Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof for their “racism” and their “bigotry.”

Here’s the video to that part of the show:

In a lengthy blog post, Sam Harris addresses his concerns. It’s worth a read. His overall point is: If one cannot discuss or question a belief or idea without being accused of judging an individual or espousing bigotry, then where is the room for discourse?

He states:

 My criticism of Islam is a criticism of beliefs and their consequences—but my fellow liberals reflexively view it as an expression of intolerance toward people.

He writes his concerns about how the discussion was framed as “racism” and “bigotry” as a question of whether Liberalism can be saved from itself.

I daresay the question applies to us in the Christian community just as much. I’ve seen honest questions about theology or discussions of how beliefs impact action descend into accusations of hatred, intolerance, bias, and willful ignorance–and these claims come from Christians towards non-believers.

Questions and discussions don’t weaken us; they make us stronger. Hiding from questions, shutting down discussion, eliminating any possibility of debate or dissension in the ranks–this just shows we have weaknesses to hide, vulnerabilities we dare not reveal to the world.

We read that we are to “always be ready to give a defense for the faith” (1 Pet 3:15). That means we have to be willing and open to hear questions people ask. We can’t take everything as a personal attack, a restriction on our freedom of religious expression, or an example of hateful intolerance.

When we hide behind name-calling and assumptions about the other person’s motivations, we’re doing ourselves no favors.

We may not have a perfect answer at the tip of our tongues. But do we at least have a listening ear?

One thought on “Tolerating Questions”

  1. It’s sad to say, but we as “Christians” are probably more guilty of this. It’s been stated that 84% of Americans believe they are Christian, because they believe in a deity or “God.” This sadly puts those of us who are trying, or “practicing” following the TEACHINGS of Christ Jesus at a disadvantage right off the bat. I believe this is why we need to get back to the basics, beginning first with the ACT of love towards others (as opposed to relying on the “feeling” only) as this will allow us to look towards others first as a “neighbor” of whom Christ said we were to love as ourselves.
    It is okay to be wary, but bigoted and racist, there is no room in Christ’s teachings for that. Can we speak out about extremist views? You bet, but let’s not forget so-called “Christian” extremists also, such as white-supreme groups and others like the former, Branch-Davidian as well as so many others. The enemy of our souls is sitting back with a smirk on his face because we are doing so much to ourselves in the name of “Christianity” and not doing what our Redeemer, Christ Jesus tells us so plainly and simply to do.
    When it comes down to it, all I can do is speak the truth from a Biblical standpoint and make sure I do what I am supposed to do, beginning with loving my neighbor through actions. Doesn’t mean I have to agree, but only refusing to help others when it is in my power to do so, is what I will be judged on in eternity, not how many people I agree with.
    Love the variety in your blog. I read the above post and skimmed some others. Thanks for stopping by mine and God bless you richly for your continued service (ministry) to the Lord and to all who pass by your writing!
    By the way, am adding your link to my links page as well!! Will stop by later to read some more!

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