Reading the discussions in the comboxes between Stuans, Servus Fidelis, Neo and Geoffrey about evangelising I found myself learning a lot; I was also very proud to be hosting such a discussion. In so far as I had any plans when I started this place, it was to try to create a space on the Internet where, instead of the sort of useless and counter-productive slanging matches I found in some newspaper sites, Christians could try to share their experiences and discuss their views and experience. My dear friend, Servus Fidelis commented:
I keep getting surprised by the fact that behind much of our differences there seems to lie some commonly held beliefs and Truths. We sometimes only express them differently where others are bit harder to find the core. But I am learning much and I hope everyone else is as well
I said ‘Amen’ to that.
Dear Bosco, who can always be counted on to say it as he sees it, commented:
I dont believe in being politiaclly correct. I think less of people who talk smoothly of people they think are going to hell when they die. I dont mean to say one has to speak evil of others in another religion. But i think its hypocritical to act like some you think is in error is Ok.
I doubt anyone reading the many exchanges here would think that SF, Struans or Neo (and certainly not Geoffrey) care much about political-correctness. Their exchanges are often robust enough to make someone of my timid temperament wince a bit, but I know it is fine, because experience of them shows me that all of them value Truth as they see it. I am glad Bosco agrees that you do not have to ‘speak evils of others’ and their church or religion. It is when that happens that dialogue is lost and polemic begins; and can anyone seriously contend that intra-Christian polemic has been helpful in spreading the word of God to the world? When we bear that kind of witness, we testify only to the power of ego and, I fear, of division.
As I read the comboxes, I do not see any of the regulars, or indeed the visitors, pulling punches. But one of the things I hope has happened here is that by frequent communication with each other, people come to know a little about the person with whom they are corresponding, and can find that behind the differences (which we should never try to pretend are not there) there is a common core. I think that core is Christ Himself.
No one familiar with the kind of discussions which went on in the first ecumenical councils will be under the impression that Christians have tolerated what they see as error with patience, or even kind words; they, too, had robust exchanges. Bosco is right to say that it is hypocrisy to see what is error and to act as though you think it is fine and dandy. But he is also right to see that speaking evil about others is not Christian.
Trying to see which differences are real, and which a matter of misunderstanding, is an important thing to do. It is now said that some of the differences which divided the fathers of the Copts from the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics were based on linguistic and cultural differences. I have no problem believing that the Father of Lies could turn even our deep love of a search for the Truth into a cause of dissension. Satan is good at that. We should get better, as we are, in seeing through that ancient trick.
I am grateful to all of you for your part in the search for what unites us.