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May 15, 2019, 2:00 PM

Dialogue



               In the Bible we see a dialogue, between God and people and between one group and the other groups. Dialogue occurs when two parties talk about their disagreements and perspectives that differ. Dialogue recognizes that the other has a voice, or viewpoint that deserves to be shared. Dialogue is a God way of living our faith.

                It seems at first that God was more in dialogue in Genesis and some other portions in the O.T., but that it trails off later. The Law from the 10 Commandments undergoes expansion and revision, indicating that the people had to work out their Salvation. Depending on the situation under various empires, the Jewish people had at times to listen to prophets calling them back to their roots. What matter to discuss? How to honor God? What kind of healthy relationships of love for God and Neighbor, Immigrants and even enemies were to be lived? “Come let us reason together!” Isaiah 1:18.

                According to Brueggemann, “God tolerates no rivals.” In our current era the rivals are racism and sexism. These are privileges which are culturally held and exist in silence, preferring not to be questioned nor discussed. Some groups have opted for a monologic way of faith and do not permit discussion. From a Bible perspective I find that disturbing and alienating. Perhaps we have all done the monologic fearing the other person in group, fearing change, fearing loss of privilege. People, all of us, can feel threatened by opening discussion.

                What hurts most are monological pronouncements. This is the “one way only” of looking at an issue. This can become an idolatrous rival to God. The extremes of conservatism and progressivism can both hold on so desperately to “one-way” of thinking and miss out on the importance of dialogue. Conservative do it by grasping for Certitude and fear Progressives by failing to be specific about correction. Both sides can end up in a monologue of silence, instead of a dialogue.

                Columnist David Brook was interviewed on NPR about this book The Second Mountain. This book focuses on the importance of relationships and vulnerability. These are important virtues of what a dialogic way of life can make possible. This is Biblical, this is Christian, This is a necessary counter to racism and sexism that prevent openness, relationship, and vulnerability.

                Someone has said that “sin is the absence of God consciousness.” I wonder at what point does love for a nation, or a way of life, race, and sexual preference become sin? When does one group’s grasp become so tight, so closed to discussion become idolatry? This is why ongoing interpretation of scripture is so important. Yet many Christians fearing the other focus on exclusion and give themselves to a domination over the other showing no room for openness, dialogue, or love.

                Galatians 5:16-26 contrast the works of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit. What will it take for Christian people to avoid the works of the flesh and to imagine the life possible in the fruit of the spirit? This is what matters!

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