Being Fearful of “the Other” View or “the Other” Person
There’s a couple things that could happen:
1. You could just read what others ethologists — ethologists who have actually engaged lions in their natural habitat — have written about lions, but then you technically wouldn’t be an ethologist.
2. You could capture a group of lions and study them in a caged setting; but again, this isn’t technically ethology as you’re removing them from their context and placing them in one that you’re comfortable with.
3. You could stay REALLY FAR AWAY from lions, using only binoculars and long zoom cameras, studying them from the comfort of your own setting without getting too close … in this case, you probably won’t be a great ethologists.
Most Christians … myself included … who have chosen a particular theological identity (such as “evangelical”, “reformed”, “dispensational” etc.) are usually pretty poor at studying OTHER PEOPLE’S THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS that happen to differ from their own view.
1. When engaging another view or perspective, we like to read what other people, who we already agree with, have written about supposed “lions.”
2. Or, we like to build fences around the “beasts” so we can view the beasts from the outside, devoid of “the beasts” actual context and setting. If we’re not comfortable with them, make them into something we’re comfortable with.
3. Or, we like to view from afar, where we can stay comfortable, not having to get too close to the “other.”
John Maxwell writes:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without [necessarily] accepting it. (Stolen from http://brettrwilkes.tumblr.com/)
I would also add, that a mark of a mature believer is being able to get close to “the lion”, realizing it may not be the devil you thought it was, and learning to understand the actual context in which “the other” exists. Getting close doesn’t mean being stupid by sleeping with the lion, but it does mean more than most of us are willing to do. We might see that what we thought was a “beast” in fact is more like ourselves than we originally thought … and, instead of trying to teach the beast, we may learn from them, finding that God may have had his hand in the making the lion.