“They’re a rather boisterous group.”
That was my wing-mate’s description of the small Theonomist contingent on campus.
It was my first semester at college. My first week. And I was already getting a lay of the college’s political landscape.
I’m a political junkie. So it’s no surprise that I asked about the political makeup of the student body.
“Are they mostly conservative?” I asked, “Any liberals? How many libertarians,” as I pray to God hoping there’s a few eccentric libertarians on campus.
“Yeah, mostly conservative and republican. A few liberals. I know there’s at least one libertarian, but they keep to themselves.”
What he said next became an omen for a conversation that would happen later on in the semester.
“There’s also a few outspoken theonomists. They’re a rather boisterous group.”
“What the heck is a Theonomist?”
“Someone who believes we should use Mosaic law as civil law.”
“So, stoning gays would be legal?”
“Yes.” He said with some hesitation.
My reply was a simple one word sentence, soaking in sarcasm…“Wonderful.”
Later that day I ended up calling my anarcho-capitalist buddy. His reactions to the theonomist presence on campus was a bit more informed.
“Those people are so annoying.”
I already knew I wasn’t going to like what these theonomists had to say.
Mosaic Law? Stoning gays? Hell no!
My instinct was to prepare for a fight. What I got was something totally different.
A Cafeteria Run-in with a Theonomist
I hadn’t met one of these outspoken theonomists. But I got my chance soon enough.
It was dinner time. Classes were over. You could meet up with friends in the cafeteria and chat until they kicked you out, 3 hours later.
That’s where I was.
It wasn’t until later that my table was joined by a new diner. Most of the table had left by then. It was just this eccentric Irish kid (who to this day is one of my favorite people) and me. Just chatting away.
That’s when this guy joined us.
Soon the Irish lad was teasing him about his religious views. Hoping to catch up with the conversation, I asked him what his views were.
“He’s a theonomist!” blurted out the Irish kid, with a grin on his face. Followed up with a theological poke that I didn’t comprehend. I’m not much of a theological guy.
“oook, yes I am, But-”
“Wait! What’s a theonomist?” I blurted out before he could continue.
What happened next was one of my favorite conversations of my entire college experience.
Immediately, he dived into theonomy. The general principles, how it works, etc.
And I, well…I just kept asking questions.
Questions, Questions, Questions
That was the key behind it all.
How did such a good conversation birth itself like that?
I wanted to know, so I asked questions. He wanted to share, so he answered.
Each time he would describe an aspect of Theonomy, I would follow it up with a clarifying question.
“So how would Theonomy deal with drug abuse?”
I used real world examples to get a better picture of his worldview. How would it deal with the problems we face now? How does Theonomy try to answer the ills of society?
Key Lesson Here: when you come across potential disagreements, ask questions. Don’t debate.
I knew I would disagree with his beliefs. But I didn’t let disagreement take over the conversation. I could’ve attacked his views. Instead, I tried to learn more about what he believed, and why.
The “why” is the most important. With the “why” you can reveal the underlining emotions, reasoning, and logic that compose the foundation of his beliefs.
Put on Your Indiana Jones Hat & Grab Your Whip: It’s an Adventure
After talking to my wing-mate about the student theonomists, I was fascinated about talking to one of them. I wanted to ask them questions about their system. I wanted to understand theonomy.
I had an adventurous spirit toward it.
I was Indiana Jones. Theonomy was an unexplored land. I was ready for an adventure.
Not to be cheesy, but that’s how you’ve got to approach disagreement (and new worldviews).
Look at it as an adventure. An adventure that’s worth your time.
It’s what I did during my conversation in the college cafeteria. I was excited and ready to learn more. I was Indiana Jones and he was an unexplored land (this analogy is getting weird fast).
You’ve got to put your hat on and grab your whip. This is an adventure!
Key Lesson Here: Looking at disagreement as an adventure changes your attitude.
An adventure is about exploration. It’s about discovering new things. It’s how a conversation should go.
You have the potential for disagreement. They don’t agree with you. You could debate them. But is that the right outlook?
How about an adventure? Look at it as a chance to explore a new point of view. Keep your mind open, your attitude friendly, and willingly explore the intricacies of their worldview.
Final Thoughts: Disagreement Doesn’t Necessitate an Argument
It would’ve been easy to debate in the cafeteria.
I could’ve given him crap about laws stoning gays. I could’ve gotten all emotional about it. I could’ve called him a sick human being.
But I didn’t.
Our disagreement didn’t necessitate argument.
The disagreement was obvious. We both knew it.
So what’s the point of getting into a pointless argument?
Here’s the thing: you can realize there’s going to be disagreement. But choose to move past it.
You can choose to converse about the differences. Learn why they believe it, and how it applies to real life examples.
You can choose the path where you’re having a friendly conversation in the school cafeteria.
That situation is not hard.
It’s easier than you think.
All it takes is the right mindset, and a willingness to have a friendly discussion.
Make it an adventure. Don’t make it a pointless argument.