Literature is filled with human conflicts and in particular, differences of opinions. Sometimes they end in violent disagreements. The Bible tells of Cain and Abel. Their differences ended with Cain killing Abel.
Julius Caesar and Brutus disagreed and Brutus stabbed Caesar. Political differences often end in violence. Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy are tragic examples.
The high number of homicides annually in San Bernardino verifies the truth of this observation. Child abuse and spousal abuse are usually preceded by differences of opinion.
Several years ago I wrote a poem I called, “La Differencia.”
I heard a phrase the other day
That speaks to me so plainly.
“Neither am I right nor are you wrong,
It’s simply this, we’re different.”
How easy it is for me to say,
That what I do is right.
Or what you say is always wrong.
No matter what I think.
You live slowly, I live fast, I like this and you like that.
Neither am I wrong nor are you right.
It’s simply this, we’re different.
More years than I would like to think about, a history professor in graduate school made a comment I’ve never forgotten. He said, “More wars have been fought, more men and women have been killed, more devastation has been resulted from RELIGION than any other reason.
Unfortunately religion is the cause for more disagreements between people; more differences among groups, more couples breaking up than for any other reason. Religion.
The issues are clear cut. Consider the hundreds of religions in the world today. The thousands of denominations in existence. The millions of independent members with different opinions. Agreement on anything would be near to impossible.
I heard a Bible scholar the other day discussing the greatest miracles in the Bible. His conclusion was recorded in the Book of Acts when it says there were 120 believers in one place, ALL IN ONE ACCORD. A famous Jewish one liner is that whenever two Jews get together, there are always at least 3-5 opinions.
I’ve been teaching a class on the history of the Bible for thirty-eight years. In the last fifty years great strides have been made in the field. For example the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls (1945) in Egypt and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947) in Israel have brought significant information about the history of the Bible.
Archaeology and Science have also added much information to the Biblical translations. Just within the last twenty-five years a plethora of credible scholars have written valuable books. Scholars like Elaine Pagels, James Robinson, Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, Marcus Borg and Bishop John Shelby Spong to name a few.
Two good examples. Recently the dissertation of Dr. Gordon Hynes (Ph.D.) professor at Redlands University for many years was brought to light. In it he catalogued over 200 examples that the Apostle Paul took from Greek philosophers and poets in his writings. They are either exact words or paraphrased.
The second discovery concerns Universalism, meaning that every person will be saved. The early Patristic Fathers like Origen and Ireneas believed it. It wasn’t until the advent of Augustine that the concept of “hell” was introduced. Most of the writings of the Fathers are now available.
BOTH SUBJECTS ARE SUBJECT TO STRONG DISAGREEMENTS. I have three basic principles that I try to live by. First, as much as possible to “agree to disagree.” This is based on respect for the other person. Stella and I have ten very, very good friends with whom we could not disagree with more. Yet, we have lunch with them regularly. We do respect them and their opinion.
If the discussion is controversial, my second rule is: “Others are entitled to their opinions, but NOT to their own set of facts.” Neither am I.
Years ago when I was doing graduate work for my Ph.D. in Humanistic Psychology, a professor gave the class some good advice. He said that when counseling someone: 1) Never tell them what to believe; 2) Never tell them who to vote for, 3) Never tell them how to make love, 4) Never tell anyone how to play golf.
Generally I’ve been successful in three of these. I’ve miserably failed with one.
Amen. Selah. So be it.