It’s okay that we don’t agree. In spite of the culture trying to polarize us into opposite camps, it is possible to disagree and still be friends.
Notice I didn’t say it’s easy. Just possible. And all that depends on three little dots (…)
Have you noticed those three dots blinking when someone is texting you? It means they are currently typing and have more to say.
Often, when I write my opinion about something, I’ll finish the statement not with a period but with three little dots known as an “ellipsis.” That word comes from the Greek, indicating “an omission.” An ellipsis is used when a writer quotes someone but leaves out part of the original quote. The ellipsis indicates there was more to the quote than what the writer is now including.
I like to put an ellipsis at the end of my own opinions because I know I probably have something more to learn on the subject. I put those three dots there to acknowledge that this is probably not my final word on the issue. It means I’m still open to learning, and I’m reserving the right to add to my ideas or even completely change my mind later.
What’s wrong with most of our conversations these days is the absence of those three dots…at least, in our minds. We have taken opinions that should be allowed to grow but set them in stone as eternal truths.
Don’t get me wrong—I do believe in eternal truths. There is a sacred text I regard as divine, and I give it all authority in my life. While I have lots of questions about it, I do not “question” its veracity. I stand firmly upon it and reject outright anything that conflicts with it.
However, that sacred text (“The Bible”) is quite different from just my opinion about it. While that text is eternal and unchangeable, our personal interpretations of it are quite temporal and constantly growing.
Or, put more simply, I’m still learning.
This is the problem I have with what most people call “science.” They lift some recent scientific pronouncements and say, “This is truth! Abandon everything else you believe and place this on the highest pedestal.” They paste arrogant statements on their social media like, “Insert in the blank is true, whether you believe it or not!”
Then quite surprisingly, another scientific discovery comes out and says exactly the opposite. Science is not eternal truth, but it is still part of our human learning process. Possibly, every scientific statement made should end in an ellipsis! Because, most likely, it is going to change as we learn more.
We are in a dangerous place when we cannot discern between eternal truth and our own opinions. People have quite a habit of conflating their political opinions with religious beliefs. Then when their political ideology fails in the public square, it drags their religion down with it.
A similar danger is when we mistake our own private interpretation of Scripture for divine Scripture itself. Things like how we think about the end of the world, worship styles, or minor doctrines on which the Bible is unclear. We canonize our thinking about Scripture as if it is Scripture itself.
By the way, this is how cults are started. And a cult can be built around any belief, religious or scientific.
Being dogmatic about self-made dogma is a setup for failure. Sooner or later, someone’s going to tip over our false gods just like the statue of pagan god Dagon in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant:
When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it. – 1 Samuel 5:2-4
God doesn’t appreciate it when we think our own idols are divine. He often delights in proving just how breakable they are.
So while I hold fast to those non-negotiables on which I base my eternal hope and personal morality, I am determined to be careful and place those three little dots at the end of all my own opinions. And it is those dots that make it possible for me to talk to you and respectfully disagree.
Since I have not elevated my personal opinion on the pedestal of eternal truth, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if your opinion or logic knocks it down.
However, if you are worshipping your ideas…on the environment, on race, on sexuality, on politics, etc…., you’re going to be incredibly offended when I tip your idols over, and they break into pieces!
In our arrogance, we forget that our thoughts are not God’s thoughts…
When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. – Psalm 50:18-21
Woe to the person who thinks they’ve learned it all! Be careful what you are not willing to follow with an ellipsis. Beware of fashioning a golden calf of your own whims.
You are not God, so all your own thoughts are quite fallible. Hold your opinions with humility. You are still learning unless, of course, you’re a close-minded worshipper of Dagon. No wonder your ideas are missing their hands and feet!
Those three little dots mean God’s not done teaching us yet. Both of us have more to learn. I trust we will be willing to learn it when God decides the time is right and we can handle the truth.
Imagine our surprise when we are finally in heaven and see the Truth himself standing right before us! Imagine just how much we got wrong and how much of God’s Truth we missed that was right in front of our eyes. All because we neglected those three little dots…