Over-exposure to liberalism causes high blood pressure.

7 06 2010

Blood Pressure - Topgold

A title worthy of the Daily Mail! But fear not, there is neither science nor substance behind this claim, merely a moment of reflection on some of my recent reading.

Every so often, perhaps due to a particular subject I’m considering, I find myself reading a selection of books by authors I’m not usually given to trusting! Sometimes, writers with whom I disagree on one or more major issue, or who I feel are on slightly dubious theological trajectories. Reading them, critiquing them, and learning from them keeps me sharp. It keeps my thinking fresh, as I have some of my jagged edges smoothed by exposure to a different point of view. But it can also raise my blood pressure.

It takes effort to be critical. It requires hard work to stay focussed and objective; neither accepting what you read unthinkingly, nor casting it aside without giving it a fair hearing. I want to keep an open mind; just open enough to take in nuggets of truth, but not so open that the things of worth tumble out. I constantly find myself having to fight the temptation to act on impulse and brand things as ‘dubious’ the moment I come across buzz-words like ’emergent’, ‘postmodern’, ‘conversation’… I have to remind myself that the flipside of the slippery spectrum of:

dubious > liberal > downright heretical

is not always

generally sound > truthful > 100% orthodox

but sometimes

mildly arrogant > unteachable > totally entrenched

I have as much disdain for the immovable, unthinking, closed-minded, ‘what would Calvin do’-bracelet-wearing, self-appointed guardian of truth as I do for the question everything, quasi-relativist, blown by the wind, new kind of Christian magpie who goes after any philosophy that glitters.

I know which way I naturally lean by inclination. I don’t look good in trendy, thick-rimmed glasses.

I’m not always good at remaining humble and teachable. It takes discipline to read things that make you feel uncomfortable and know where to draw the line. It requires you to know yourself; your tendencies and prejudices. I regularly have to fight my propensity toward rash, knee-jerk rejections based on my own unfounded presuppositions rather than serious, Spirit-filled theological reflection.

I see through a glass darkly, with eyes full of timber! It does me well to remember it…

Study that induces a sense of discomfort can be wonderfully medicinal, or a fruitless pain. Iron sharpening iron, or nails on a chalkboard. Personally, I try to keep it to seasons. Short bursts. A brief dive into murky waters, before coming back up to take deep lung-fulls of fresh air.

Reading books that require you to take them with a pinch of salt is all very well, but too much salt leads to high blood pressure! I have no doubt that in the long run I’d be better off cutting down my salt content and feasting on something more nutritious. As Jeremiah testifies, ‘Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.’ (Jeremiah 15:16)




One response

7 06 2010
Olumide Ajulo

As always – very insightful 😀

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