I think all of us agree that there are times when we disagree. And we disagree on many things ranging from our favorite place to eat to our political preferences to what we believe about religion. There’s nothing out of the ordinary or wrong with disagreeing. The challenge for us is how we disagree and our attitude when doing so.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been reading a book about Catholics and Evangelicals–what they have in common and their differences (Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic by Chris Castaldo). Chapters 10 and 11 have been especially encouraging to me not just in discussing differences between Catholics and Evangelicals, but in all kinds of differences.
One of the most important things the author relates concerns a ride to the airport he gave to a well-known leading Catholic. It took just over an hour to get to the airport and Castaldo writes that they talked about a wide range of issues. I was personally convicted by Castaldo’s words, “We disagreed seriously on a lot of things; however, we could still speak with mutual respect” (p. 148). I asked myself, why can’t all of us treat those with whom we disagree with respect?
Later in the chapter Castaldo hit me with three other observations that gave me a lot more to think about. He confessed, “It makes me uncomfortable when people assert their beliefs in an absolute sort of way” (p. 151). He went on to suggest, “The problem is when we insist that others believe just as we do” (p. 151). Are there any two people you know who believe exactly the same about anything that can be controversial? His conclusion also forced me to do some thinking: “it’s just not right to impose your view on everyone else” (p. 151).
It was also somewhat refreshing to me to read Castaldo’s affirmation in chapter 11, “While there are many important doctrines that divide Catholics and Evangelicals, there is also much on which we agree” (p.163). I fear that too often in many of our disagreements we ignore what we agree on and focus too much on those things we disagree on. Although I know I’ve been guilty myself, I love his wisdom: “While we must agree to disagree in some places, courteous dialogue is a much more Christian approach than throwing polemical hand grenades over the ecclesial fence” (p. 168).
Some of our harsh demeaning disagreement in a variety of discussions is an indicator of pride. I know I need to show more humility in disagreements. Castaldo again shares some wisdom when he notes, “Being humble doesn’t mean that we have compromised our conviction of what constitutes truth any more than being meek suggests that one is devoid of strength” (p. 168).
For those who may be interested, Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic is a very readable and helpful book about Catholics and Evangelicals. Remember also that the wisdom of author Chris Castaldo is not just about the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals. I’ve tried to highlight some principles and ideas that seem helpful for dealing with our disagreements with others if we will apply them.
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