It is rather a typical assumption of the modern Western mind that differences and hostilities are due mainly to misunderstandings or a lack of proper information; that if we would discuss (“dialogue”), share information, respect pluralism (diversity), and overcome misunderstandings, all would be well and there would be peace.
Missing in this approach is the more sober notion of the hardness of human hearts.Information alone does not usually bring peace and an end to trouble. Rather, transformation effected by repentance and conversion is the truer and more biblical answer. But repentance and conversion usually require a lot more than dialogue or the sharing of information.
Biblically, repentance is usually effected by a combination of instruction and admonition. Teaching and the setting forth of doctrine are essential, but warning about the consequences of disregarding the truth must also take place. As He taught, Jesus consistently warned that in the end there will be sheep and goats, those to the right and those to the left, the wise and foolish virgins, those who will hear “Come blessed of my Father ..” and those who will hear, “Depart from me you evil doers.” Yes, His parables are filled with warnings as are his more discursive teachings, in which He warns that no one will come to the Father except through Him and that Unless you come to believe that I AM, you will die in your sins (Jn 8:24).
The Catholic columnist Joseph Sobran spoke to the sober reality that in our national conversation today we are quite often dealing with hardened sinners. He writes,
We are not dealing with conscientious differences, but with hardened consciences. [For example] such people are willing to pretend that killing isn’t killing; they shrink from using the word “kill” to describe what abortion does, though they would presumably acknowledge the bug sprays kill bugs and weed killers kill weeds.
Christ himself expected everyone to recognize and acknowledge the truth. He didn’t speak of pluralism and religious differences; he was quite in emphatic that if men rejected the truth—his truth—when it was offered to them, they condemned themselves … Forgiveness, yes, even for those who crucified him; but tolerance in the modern sense, no. His truth was so authoritative, so compelling, that he seemed to assume that nobody who encountered it, simple peasant or learned epistemologist could deny it in good faith. He [also] warned that rejection and persecution would be the normal a lot of Christians, because the world would hate the light and willfully refuse to convert, not because it might be innocently misinformed (Subtracting Christianity, page 84).
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