Recent events and certain debates on a Danish young Adventists’ Forum once again prompt the question: Do we believe in dialogue? Is the purpose more important than the method? In a church body that probably includes a higher percentage of fundamentalists than the average population, it’s a very relevant question.
As Christians we have an obligation to tell other people about Jesus. I think most would agree thus far. To some extent, we also have a responsibility to guide our brothers and sisters of faith when we think they are misled. I think many can agree also to this.
The problem, as I see it, is if it becomes our primary agenda to correct apparent mistakes. We may be right, or they may be right. Or could it be that we would agree to disagree in mutual respect? We don’t have the answers to all questions. There may be extremes where dialogue is virtually impossible because we’re too different. But they must be the exception and never be dismissed without an honest attempt.
Imagine that Mr. X says things that I find to be incorrect. Should I yell in his face that he’s in pact with the Devil? Or better yet, tell all my friends that he is? Or should I approach Mr. X and say, “It seems we have differing opinions. Would you like to sit down some day and compare notes?”
This is not the same as not taking a stand. For example, I have strong opinions in favour of democracy, freedom of speech, liberalism (political, not necessarily theological), respect, and dialogue. Consequentially, I disapprove of fundamentalism, trench-wars, and slander.
I am not after anyone in particular here, but I think the principles are important. I cannot and will not prohibit people from fighting each other using non-dialogue tools. But I will say that undemocratic methods are so fundamentally against my principles that I will probably dismiss the content beforehand. Even though they may be right.
I’m guessing that not many people will speak against me. For if you do not approve of dialogue, why would you enter a debate about why you don’t approve of dialogue. Did anyone say Muhammad?