Your Opinion: Respect differences; seek understanding

Dear Editor:

When I say I don’t know everything I’m including not having a complete and infallible understanding of God and the Bible.

I chose to become a Christian as a very young child expecting to learn.

But when I asked questions of adults I got so many conflicting answers, at age 16 I had to learn for myself. So for the past 65 years I have studied the contents of multiple English translations of the Bible (no two were exactly the same.)

In addition, so I could know the context behind the content, I studied history, geography, cultures and even the science. Beyond that I studied the history of the institutional church with its creeds, rituals and traditions.

I also studied the leaders who chose (and also interpreted) which of the many Christian writings to include in what is called the New Testament. (This took several centuries.)

Over the years my understandings have continued to change. At the moment I rest on two foundational insights: Love and forgiveness.

I believe that love is what God is all about and as a Christian I am required to act accordingly. I also must forgive others as well as myself because everyone is flawed.

Despite my best efforts I still am not qualified to tell others what to believe. Surely I cannot justify “throwing stones” or condemning others when I am not qualified.

Frankly, I don’t believe that anyone, including those who are seminary schooled, has a complete and infallible understanding of God and the Scriptures.

Thus, while I am interested in what others believe, I don’t accept their understanding as infallible. Therefore, I feel free to resist any efforts intended to force me, and others with different beliefs, to agree with them.

I also believe it is not acceptable for me to quote scriptures without citing the exact passage because to do is to take the risk that I have failed to interpret it correctly.

An approach such as force or misinformation is unnecessarily divisive.

It is not only possible for me to love and respect those with whom I disagree. I must do so. When I fail to love and forgive, I show disrespect for God and my religion.

Differences are not a reason to disrespect or to hate others.

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