Giving Way To Being Right So We Avoid Being Wrong

Who does not like to be right? It is satisfying and it is something that is seen as the goal of most debates. The format of the debate is such that one side is trying to defeat the other side through argument. There is someone who “won” the debate, and in this thinking, there is someone who lost. Debate is a wonderful practice, however debate is not set up to further knowledge but set up to fortify previously held positions. When was the last time you were changed because of a debate?

The debate model is alive and well in theology. There is the right way to understand the Bible or interpret a scripture passage. There is the right way to talk about Jesus and the nature of sin. The history of the Church is peppered with councils that are thought of as year long debates in which there was a winner (orthodox) and a looser (heretic).

And of all the things worthy of debate, is not the salvation of the world worthy? Don’t we want to be right about salvation?

My life has shown me that I am rarely right about the most basic things in life much more in the essentials. I think people who drive poorly are idiots rather than consider that the driver is new to driving. My spouse will say something to me that I will mishear or misinterpret and I will think that we are in a fight about our parents when really I just need hearing aids.

The past several years, I have discovered there is a more graceful way to be in the world that is better than being right.

It is the way of avoiding being wrong.

Being right means that I have to convince you and everyone of my rightness. However, to avoid being wrong means that we give others the benefit of the doubt. Trying to avoid being wrong means that we give the most generous interpretation to the actions of others. We are more graceful and grateful, more forgiving and giving. More cautious and discerning. More patient and loving.


Mark 9:38-41

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

In the story from Mark, Jesus is less concerned about the rightness of the healer. Jesus did not care if the healer was a “follower” or not. Jesus did not demand that this healer should be “right.” Rather, Jesus sees this healer as one who is avoiding the wrong. And as the healer avoided the wrong, people were healed. It was the ones who demanded the healer to be right (aka the disciples") who were unable to heal a demon possessed person in just prior in Mark 9:14-29!

It is my assumption that we would rather live in a world without demons and the first demon to exorcise is the possession of having to be right.

If You Can Ride a Bike You Are Just as Bias as "The Media"

I know this will take a few minutes, but if you are like me it will make you smile and illustrate something that we all know but think we are a immune to it - You are just as bias as "The Media"

We all like to think that there is an objective position that we can take that will lead us to "The Objective And Universal Truth". Many of us expect "The Media" should take the objective position. Many a people claim that The Media is bias and thus only watch/listen to news that they agree with - because that news outlet is not bias. If there is an Objective and Universal Truth, then we human beings are not able to ever take the Objective position to get see it.

We all are bias. We all have brain patterns that force us to see the world in a particular way that makes "total sense" to us (and maybe others like us), but does not make sense to others. You want to know why common sense is not so common? Because Common Sense is at best local and most often at a personal level. 

So the next time we Christians make statements of Truth, may we do so with an awareness that if we cannot ride a backwards bike without months of practice, then we may not know what the hell Truth is.

So let us err on the side of Love.


Airtight arguments kill us

He was a PhD student in philosophy and he was invited to share about why he is an atheist in the Sunday school class, I'll call him Casey. Casey is one of those "smartest guy in the room" sort of people. He came with one of the philosophy proofs on a large whiteboard. It was clear by his posture that he was not critical of religion, but confident in what he understood to be true. At the end of the logic proof he opened the floor for questions.

A few hands went up and he addressed them with a speed that I can only assume came from the fact he answered these questions before or that he had superpowers. At the end of the session it was clear, Casey no one would be able to convince him to move from his views. 



I have met many Caseys in my life. Some are atheist and others are theists. Regardless of their positions, they all seem to share one characteristic. As far as they are concerned the arguments are. They are right and everyone else is wrong. Even if you have an objection, they already have a response and an answer. They are clear that what is most important are the facts and their sources of authority (philosophy, the Bible, the Constitution, FOXNews, Jon Stewart, biology, physics, etc.) are more authoritative than others. 

I have also learned that it is difficult to be friends with someone who is airtight. I have learned that when I am airtight with my views, position or arguments, it really turns people off. Others do not feel heard, valued, appreciated or even accepted as having anything to contribute. When I am airtight I have fewer connections with people.

Perhaps the element overlooked when we strive to have airtight arguments is being airtight can suffocate us.