Here is a great article from Mez McConnell titled ‘Learning from the idiot in the room‘. Let me strongly urge you to read it.
In it, he urges us to consider the following things when discussing with people from outside our theological/ecclesiastical “tribe”:
- How is what this person saying challenging my long held beliefs?
- How have they arrived at their conclusions? What’s their (biblical) thought process been and how/why is it different to mine?
- Are my personal prejudices against this person (and/or their tribe) stopping me from really listening and engaging with this person? Have I made my mind up not to learn before we even start? Is this going to be more about debate and point scoring than mutual learning?
- Is there something I can actually learn here without compromising my doctrinal beliefs?
- Have I changed my mind about anything in the last few years? Have I ever, come to that matter?
Ask yourself (as I ask myself), how often do I do these things? Am I unable to learn from another person because of my own pre-existing prejudice? Is the idiot in the room really the person I’m talking to or the person in the conversation I know rather better?