Faith is fused with identity. I am what I believe. As a result, the discovery of a truth opens new worlds and changes my character.
What, then, is the danger of conversion, trying to bring others into truth? It is this. To convert is not to open up new worlds. Instead, its aim is to destroy old ones, leaving the converted in a land not their own and dependent on us, their human saviors.
Do you see that proselytizing is patronizing? That it is a way for us to lord over the less-enlightened? That it objectifies?
Too often, we seek to convince people that they must exchange their boxes for ours. This is sin. Our aim, instead, must be to help them tear holes in their boxes, to see the light of day, to enter this new world as free men and women.
But first, we must work on tearing down the walls of our own boxes. After all, the beam must be removed from your eye before you can take the speck of dust from your brother’s.
we seek to convince people that they must exchange their boxes for ours
It has taken me a while to truly understand. Tearing down the walls of my box is one way to say it, I like that way too. My “box” was a small Quaker box that has since grown bigger and is continually learning to sit next to other boxes “as a good neighbor.” When my box was small, I thought Quakers had cornered the market on truth. Then I found out there were “other” Quakers and I felt violated and a little angry. Since then, Seminary has been such a huge help in helping me to let go and allow the Holy Spirit to work in other peoples lives. Thanks Eric, I like leaving a comment every once in a while on your blog…
Thanks for leaving this comment, especially the part about sitting next to other boxes “as a good neighbor.” It’s harder than it sounds. But important that we do that work.
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