I wrote about the danger of theological bubbles last week. Here are some reflections and ruminations on the topic. Bubbles can be Baptist or any other denominational variety. They can be Calvinist, Traditionalist, Arminian or any other place on the soteriological perspective. They can be cessationist or charismatic. They can be eschatological. Pretty much any passionately held theological perspective runs the risk of becoming a bubble, when we isolate ourselves from other positions and those who hold them.
It is noble to study the Bible and arrive at dearly held theological positions. It is good to proclaim them, even to try to convince others of them. But there is a danger that such positions are not as scripturally-based as we all want to claim, and that when we retreat into bubbles, we end up reinforcing our own theological prejudices. There is a fine line between the encouragement of friends and building bubbles of isolation.
So, here are my ideas about how people end up in theological bubbles and some of the signs that a person has been enveloped in one.
So, you might be in your own little theological bubble if…
1) On your blog (or other social media), all of your “recommended blogs” share your theological perspective.
You mean that there is not a single blog on the “other side” that is worth reading? Really?
2) You only read books by people from your own theological perspective.
Corollary: When you construct recommended reading lists, only those that share your particular perspective are considered worthy of inclusion. Act as if the “other side” never addressed the topic at all!
3) You spend much time with like-minded friends criticizing and even ridiculing those of other perspectives, but little time engaging them in real conversation.
Suggestion: private Facebook and email groups are a great way to insulate yourself from anyone who does not share your views and avoid any accountability for your representations (or misrepresentations) of the other side.
4) You would rather use straw man caricatures of the other side than labor to understand and accurately characterize their views.
Corollary: When accused of using straw man arguments, you vehemently deny it – convinced that your view of the other side is more accurate than their own definition of their beliefs.
Suggestion: If those of another theological perspective constantly accuse you of straw man characterizations of their viewpoints, reexamine whether you are accurately representing them. You might be building straw men after all!
5) All of the conferences you attend share (and reinforce) your particular theological position.
6) You tend to judge people’s character, integrity and fidelity based on whether they share your theological perspective.
7) You are quick to believe negative reports and conspiratorial accusations against those of different theological perspectives. It is “us against them” after all.
Corollary: when you read such negative reports about your theological opponents, you accept them enthusiastically without exhibiting concern for the accuracy of the facts asserted.
Secondary Corollary: you vehemently defend those who share your perspective against any similar allegations, again, regardless of whether the accusations are founded in reality or not.
8) You abhor behavior in those of other theological perspectives that you applaud in those who share your theological perspective.
Right and wrong behavior (in your opinion) becomes dependent on whether the person agrees or disagrees with your theological perspective.
9) You use theological code words that those of your theological perspective use in a particular, unique way, often exclusionary toward those of other theological perspectives. (I’d like to give examples, but it would be too inflammatory, I fear.)
10) You never, EVER, admit that the other side has any Scripture on their side. “I don’t see how anyone with a Bible could come to that position.”
Face the Facts, dude: For every dearly held theological position you have, there are three or four verses that are easier for the other side to explain!
I don’t want to run the risk of being accused of being in an anti-bubble bubble, so this is your chance to speak out. What say you?