Welcome to the introductory post for our ‘Tend the Garden’ category.
One thing I keep coming across a great deal is echo chambers. An echo chamber is where we are only listening to people who hold the same views as ourselves.
The trouble is, too much time living in an echo chamber can do us harm. Constantly having our views echoed back to us can easily lull us into a false sense of security. We become overconfident in what we think we know. The repeated and unquestioned reinforcement of our views makes it much more difficult when our beliefs eventually do get seriously challenged. Any new evidence finds it nearly impossible to disrupt the nice familiar and soothing echoes we are used to hearing. More often than not we simply will not even listen. The result is the potential for growth and fruitfulness can be thrown away.
If I love to stay in my echo chamber more than actively interacting with scripture, I will stubbornly resist the notion of my beliefs being evaluated. I will not allow new light to be shed on what I think I know. Curiously, this resistance will intensify if the new light exposes my theology as possibly erroneous. I will dig in. Instead of enthusiastically accepting any new information that proves valid, I will do the opposite.
It’s the hermeneutical equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears and singing loudly to ourselves. It’s quite a thought that many of us will do anything to avoid listening to alternative voices. By doing so we can actually prevent our thinking being shaped by scripture.
In the Church our echo chambers are usually built around our favourite theologies. Examples would be prosperity/word faith theology, Arminianism/Calvinism, or perhaps different eschatological (End Time) theories. It saddens me when we are not open to considering other ideas or perspectives. Ideally we should regularly be testing our interpretations and challenging our theological positions. None of us should assume we know it all. If our beliefs come through these tests unscathed then we can have greater confidence in them. If we find we have a chink in the armour then we can rejoice in the opportunity to put it right. Either outcome should be welcomed. Both open the door to us growing in our faith.
The Truth Will Set You Free
The intention of this area of Karpophoreo.com, ‘Tend the Garden’, is to practise interpretation. An element of this will be to tackle, and hopefully unlock, some echo chambers. Good interpretation leads us to truth, and as Jesus said, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV). Our echo chambers can stop us seeing and knowing the truth. They can become obstacles preventing us from obtaining a richer understanding of scripture. As such, they are well worth unlocking, and once unlocked we must have the courage to step out of them.
With this in mind, we will occasionally examine some popular theological ideas to see whether they deserve the loyalty of their followers. In the late summer I will be introducing the first theological position we will evaluate. I will look at it in the light of scripture, and see how robust it is. Hopefully it will pass the test, but if not we will be open to it being an opportunity to learn and grow. In the spirit of this article, anyone is invited to comment (hopefully constructively!) on the Karpophoreo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Karpophoreo.DavidTinson/
After all, the last person I would want to be happily sat in an echo chamber is myself…