Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I'm not God (and neither are you)

In our current hyper-politicized moment in the United States, I've seen a lot of people say that so-and-so is "wrong about everything," or that a certain politician "has never been right on any issue." 

This type of rhetoric is unhelpful. As Muehlhoff and Langer point out in their book Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing Without Dividing the Church

One of the telltale signs of bias is to view another group as being totally wrong on every issue. (p. 175) 

Many people also will often assume the motives of those with whom they disagree, asserting that they must "hate democracy" or are "evil people." As this article about the work of philosopher Hannah Arendt points out,

"...evil deeds often are performed or caused by people who have no evil intent. The sad truth is that evil deeds are often performed by people who have not reflected on the moral dimension of their acts."

From a theological point of view, there is another issue with stating that any certain person is always right or always wrong, or with assuming that person't core motivation. When we do that, we are in some sense putting ourselves in God's place, claiming to possess an omniscience that only He has.

It is not possible for me to know every policy position of any particular political candidate. Nor is it possible for me to see the thoughts and intents of their heart. So to say that they are always right or always wrong, or assuming to know their motivations for adopting those policies, is not within the scope of my finite human knowledge.

Now, I can say that I disagree with every position I have heard from a particular person. That falls properly within my abilities. I can point out factual errors related to individual policy pronouncements, offering evidence to support my assertion that the politician is wrong on that matter. But to make blanket statements using absolutizing language is not appropriate for mere mortals.

God is God, and I am not.

And neither are you.

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