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Embracing Ambiguity

May 2, 2019

 

When I was very young I had some unique ideas about what life would be like when I grew up. Some of these beliefs are common to children: I would always live with my parents, I would watch TV all day and never have to go to bed, and I would never EVER eat broccoli again. There was one thing I believed, however, that was not shared by others. I was certain that, when I grew up, I would be a boy.

 

This idea may have stemmed from jealousy of my brother’s social life. He was two years older than me, and it seemed that he was always going to birthday parties. For some unknown reason, I presumed only boys went to birthday parties. I remember clearly telling my mother in my most soulful, tear-filled voice, “When I grow up and become a boy, I’m going to go to lots of birthday parties too!”

My mother never corrected me. She would listen to me, smile, give me a hug, and quickly put an end to any teasing my brother sent my way. She knew I’d eventually figure out the truth, and it was more important that my brother’s criticism of my inaccurate understanding not cause any scarring on our relationship.

 

In 2012, Rob Bell wrote a book entitled “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” There was a lot of chatter after its publication because many mainline evangelicals don’t believe in its theology and were pretty angry about a message they considered contradictory to the “Church’s” historic interpretation. There was a lot said in criticism of the book, and also in its defense.

 

I read the book and enjoyed it. At the time, I read numerous reviews and watched Bell’s interview with Lisa Miller from Newsweek. The thing that stood out the most to me was the determination many Christians had to be “correct” – and to prove how “right” they were and how “wrong” Bell was.

 

There’s certainly a lot of religious opinions out there, and let’s face it, they can’t all be true. Like my mother dealing with a daughter who misunderstood some basic facts of life, I think God smiles . . . maybe even chuckles at some of the things we believe. He knows we’ll all eventually understand. There will come a time when we’ll all have a clear picture of what’s true.

 

In the meantime, I think the scarring that takes place when we attack each other saddens Him. These conversations should be had, and discussion is healthy. However, at the end of the day, none of us has a corner on the market of what is truth. Personally, I think we should all do more listening, adopt a little humility, and embrace ambiguity.

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