Thursday, 04 November 2010
This week a very kind, patient, and inquisitive woman stopped by the church to offer me Sun Myung Moon’s autobiographical book as a gift. If you are not familiar with Moon there is a lot I could say, but for now it’s enough to say he believes he is the Messiah fulfilling the Second Coming of Christ.
I was hesitant in receiving the book because I already knew I do not believe that Moon is who he says he is. But after engaging her in a lengthy conversation about Moon, the Bible, and the church I pastor, I decided I would take the book and one day make my way through it. I took the book not because she was effective in wearing down my resistance, but because as we talked I realized that my knowledge of Moon and his Unification Church were minimal. I knew enough to reject his claims, but not enough to articulate what he and his followers really believe.
More to the point, I took the book because I believe it is important that as Christians we seek to speak truthfully, even about those with whom we disagree. The ninth commandment says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16). In other words, don’t make stuff up. There is enough good reason to reject Moon’s claims about himself that we do not need to manufacture lies about him.
The same goes for all other areas of life. There may be good reason to think that So-and-So should not date him, but we don’t need to make stuff up about the guy. There may be good reason to vote this way or that, but we don’t need to exaggerate opposing views to convince people. There may good reason to reject that group’s claims, but we don’t need to misidentify their motives.
What’s more, too often we speak in vague generalities about those people, using a broad stroke to speak about a variety of persons. For example, growing up in Texas I frequently heard some variant of, “Californians are loony!” We hear things on TV such as, “Republicans are racists,” or “Democrats are socialists.” Especially during this heightened political season, the false testimonies are endless. Vote this way or that and you’re allowing doom to come tomorrow! These words are not only intellectually lazy, but dishonest. Both of which are not virtues of Christianity.
As Christians, we must take seriously the task of speaking honestly. We must speak honestly of our God, of ourselves, of our family members, of our neighbors, and of our enemies. Go ahead and name the areas of contention and disagreement, but make sure you do it as accurately as possible. Present opposing views accurately and argue from there. Basically, know your stuff, don’t make it up. The alternative is not to speak at all.
Have you ever done this? Has this happened to you? How does this apply to exploring other religions?