Being Right Might be Wrong (116)

In this episode John and Gregg follow-up to last week’s episode “You’re Wrong Unless You Have the Right Emotional Response” which discussed a popular post by Dr. Everett Piper’s titled “This is not a daycare. This is a university.”

John kicks this episode off by expressing concern that Dr. Piper’s letter so strongly emphasizes the view that “we (the university, the church, etc.) are right, you are wrong.” John wonders, in fact, what motives or orientations are operative such that someone wants so strongly to convey that s/he is right (and to convince others of this rightness).

Gregg raises the notion that, in his experience, Christians believe that the must follow / imitate the positive, biblical examples of Jesus’ followers (such as Paul on Mars Hill, in Acts 17) and the admonitions of biblical writes (such the indication that Christians should always be prepared to explain / defending their faith, in 1 Peter 3:15).

Yet Gregg argues that Paul’s situation (of needing to explain Jesus to others because they did not know, and needing to argue—rather than dialogue—with Hebrew people about the validity of Jesus’ divinity, because monotheism was so staunchly embedded in the Hebrew faith and mindset) is not ours. Thus we actually should not respond as Paul did and should not necessarily seek to argue and debate anyone who seems to disagree with our Christian views (Gregg notes the comparison here with an earlier episode titled “Unlearning Youth Group,” Episode 82.

Woodenly imitating Paul in such situations would actually be to misinterpret the Bible by ignoring the cultural relevance and context of these particular actions and mindsets.

For example, by acting to defend one’s faith to those who find Christianity not incorrect but irrelevant, merely acts to confirm their viewpoint by proving that Christians are so “out of touch” with reality that they must fabricate arguments and opponents where in fact there are none (because their views are so pointless that they don’t even bear opposing, yet the Christians can’t even figure this out)!

Gregg also notes that Dr. Piper seems defensive and perhaps this is due to being more “boundary-focused” than “centre-focused.”  Further, Gregg sees this type of response, that focuses so much on “being right” and communicating that “rightness” to others in ways that are completely clear and non-negotiable to be based on several factors.

First, if the person is rather uniformed and not in a position of power or authority then it seems most likely to be an expression of fear. Second, for those who have a good amount of training (who are biblical scholars or Presidents of universities), it may instead by a matter of conditioning and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for others.

Finally, Gregg suggests that Christians in authority should aim to leave those with whom they disagree (such as this situation with Dr. Piper and the student) with a question that will motivate them in “the right direction” rather than leaving them with instructions or threats of what will happen if they do not accept your viewpoint?

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