04 Oct Agree to Disagree
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
These famous words are attributed to Voltaire, the French philosopher. Can a Christian approve of this statement? I would say, “Yes” on the basis of the Biblical teaching on free will. According to the Bible, the right to choose is a unique gift which God gave to humans. It is one of the privileges of being created in the image of God. Of course, freedom of choice carries with it the responsibility to face the consequences of the choice. But God has given the freedom to humans to believe or not to believe in God. He is free to obey or not to obey God. This is true in relation to man’s freedom to have an opinion also. It is on the basis of this fundamental aspect of Biblical anthropology that freedom of speech is considered to be a fundamental right.
How do we deal with a differing voice in a church or fellowship? It may be a totally different view on faith or practice. It may be a different way of interpreting a Bible passage or understanding a doctrine. The first thing to do is to understand that view thoroughly. The person(s) who hold that view should be given the opportunity to explain it. And others should be willing to listen and understand that view in its entirety. The view may be different from what the majority of members have held in the past. But as long as the view does not violate the aims, doctrinal basis, policies or core values of the church or fellowship, it should be accepted as another view. The right of the person to hold a different view should be accepted and respected.
Regarding the question of whether to eat or not to eat food offered to idols, Apostle Paul makes the following statement.
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the LORD. Whoever eats meat does so to the LORD, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the LORD and gives thanks to God.” (Rom.14:5-6). It is unfortunate that the spirit of understanding and tolerance displayed by the great apostle is a rare phenomenon in modern times.
Mr. Jacob Samuel based out of Palakkad, Kerala is one of the founders of ESAF (Evangelical Social Action Forum). Presently he works as its Director-Programs. His wife Laly served as staff with UESI-Kerala before marriage. They are blessed with a daughter who is married and two sons