56: Confidence or Arrogance | Listener Feedback

In this episode John and Gregg discuss listener feedback from Eric in the comments for Episode #41.  Eric believes John and Gregg have been overly critical of The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford in a way that is unnecessary and misses the value others have found in Hufford’s message.

John and Gregg reflect on this feedback and consider why they are being critical and detail oriented. Gregg comments on this in the context of his current experiences at Swiss L’Abri where new arrivals often complain that discussions about God are overly complex or major on minor ideas. If people stay for a while this perspective often changes.

Gregg notes that putting valid or questionable details into an orientation that doesn’t work may take you to the wrong destination. This has been Gregg’s concern with The Misunderstood God.

When investigating a presentation it’s reasonable to ask some questions:

  • How well have the issues been formulated?
  • Are the issues formulated as accurately as possible?
  • How well have we understood the methods or ways of responding to the issues?
  • Is the response or solution to the issues presented as effective as it could be?

The conversation turns to credentials and credibility and how much those things should factor into the validity of another person’s ideas or challenges to existing ideas.

Gregg explains what he sees as the differences between humility, arrogance and confidence as John raises the question of how to draw the line between trying to evaluate and understand something and being unnecessarily critical. Could it be that one person’s nit-picking is another person’s thoroughness?

John encourages listeners to share a different perspective, even if it’s at odds with his or Gregg’s. It’s especially helpful when sharing your point of view to give some details about how you arrive at your conclusions or experiences you’ve had. This helps us and others learn from you, invites conversation, and aides in refining different viewpoints.

4 thoughts on “56: Confidence or Arrogance | Listener Feedback

  1. Evan

    Good podcast today guys. I think there is a fine line between the two concepts like you discussed. For me, it’s the same fine line between criticism and discernment. Part of me thinks that this episode ties into last weeks specifically concerning the grey scale. There are aome basic truths that we can all agree on and that should come out of a books study, yet there is also a lot of grey. When we are unwilling to see the other side or at least take that into consideration, that is arrogance, yet there should be basic truths that we can all stand for. Confidence and humility haven’t been something I have processed through before either and is an interesting concept. Thanks again for wanting people to “join the conversation.”

    1. Gregg Monteith

      Hi Evan,

      Thanks for your insightful comment. I’d like to know more of what you mean about discernment and criticism being similar to confidence vs. arrogance: how exactly do you see them relating? I also appreciate your comment about “basic truths” that can be agreed upon. To clarify, do you mean basic biblical truth claims that all Christians can agree upon (like the notion that the Christian God alone is God, that this God is unique and yet exists in three distinct entities, that Jesus is one of those entities yet was also fully human), or do you mean something different?

      And thanks for taking us up on our offer to “join the conversation:” it’s great to have someone stimulating to discuss this with.


      1. Evan

        Hey Gregg,

        I was meaning those basic christian truths of the triune Godhead, Christ being fully God and fully human, etc. I think we can be confident in those basic truths, but arrogance seems to come into play on some of the “minor” things that denominations or other Christians see as important. That’s more of a personal thing right now with the church that I attend. Some “minor” things to me may be “major” things to them, and sometimes our arrogance for the rightness or wrongness of something clouds any growth in one way or another.

        Concerning discernment/criticism and confidence/arrogance goes I have a few thoughts. I guess I see discernment as a way to gain understanding about something taking into account our ability to judge between things. Criticize in a negative sense would be taking discernment to a more severe degree in which we no longer are trying to gain understanding but pull out the faults in this or that. I think I would be safe in saying that arrogance could be a perverted form of confidence in which we, again, are no longer trying to gain understanding but, in this case, stick to the things we hold close to home, whether or not they are based in truth.

        Thanks for getting me to think a little further through this stuff.

        1. Gregg Monteith

          Hi Evan,

          Thanks for clarifying your points–this helps us better understand where you’re coming from and what’s important to you. I appreciate you views and I too think that the relationship between the major points and the minor points of Christianity is important, but also tricky. I find that two things help me in adjudicating how much emphasis to put on something (so how ‘major’ or ‘minor’ it is).

          First, bearing in mind that I am always interpreting. This is not to say that our beliefs are unfounded or that we can “know” nothing. Rather it keeps me sufficiently aware that I am situated, finite, and sinful (where sinful means having a certain propensity to holding & promoting my views for reasons unrelated–and sometimes contradictory–to truthfulness). And of course, everyone is similar: we all, always interpret.

          Second, in my view the key reality to human existence and Christianity is found within the tension between love and truth, truth and love. On the one hand, I believe that both are essential to who God is. For instance God truly exists, and is the only divine being. As such God’s claims are absolute (even though I can only access them through my limited, finite and sinful interpretations) and so God truly is sovereign. In this respect (or on this “register”) Christians are to be servants rendering allegiance and obedient service to our sovereign.

          Yet God is equally creator and more so: the biblical text clearly shows God as parent / Father, as the New Testament clearly revolutionizes the love relation began in Deuteronomy 6 to the deep, father / child intimacy that Jesus teaches in Luke 11: “He said to them: ‘When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven…’ .” In this respect (or on this “register”) Christians are children who are loved by and in love with God, our true parent and father.

          On the other hand, both truth and love / love and truth are essential to I am. For instance, the best reason for believing something is that it is true. Yet when I consider what is the truest thing for me, it is to be loved deeply by one who knows me truly, and to love that one in return. Said differently, in my view both truth and love are essential for human existence and flourishing.

          So to my mind, when we maintain the tensions necessary to being good interpreters (between confidence and humility, Holy Spirit and sinfulness, trust and suspicion, etc.) and the key tension necessary to right relationship with God (love and truth / truth and love), then we stand a better chance not only to distinguish the major from the minor points but also to live out their meanings (and their differences) in a way that makes our lives rich and also demonstrates to those around us the value of rightly relating with God.



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