humility

Preachers can clarify what Christianity distinctively says, but such clarification is most effectively made with the humility that comes from having heard – and honored – what other voices distinctively say. More often, in the postmodern milieu, our attitude is one of tolerance rather than humility. There is an important difference between the two. Tolerance can keep its distance: Competing ideas can be relativized, promoting polite agreements like ‘You have your view and I have mine, and both are of equal value.” Differences can be shrugged off, allowing misleading generalizations like “All religions are saying the same thing anyway.” Common ground thus gained rests on artificial supports and pleasantries; it cannot withstand the give-and-take of real exchange. Humility, however, requires engagement: One view is held in relation to another. Conversants hold a stake in a point of view for which they are willing to argue. Conversation goes back and forth; there is an exchange. With this exchange, viewpoints are challenged and honed. A robust teasing out of meaning comes through difference, engagement, and a willingness to have view revised. An attitude of humility requires a willingness to explore competing ideologies and to identify the fault lines and shortcomings of our own beliefs as well as those of others. – “Preaching Scripture Faithfully in a Post-Christendom Church” by Christine McSpadden. The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays

theartofreadingscripture

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