Hurt Feelings

It is clearly rude to make derogatory comments about differing faiths of others, and everyone has a right to be angered when confronted by such rudeness. By derogatory comments I mean negative statements of opinion that are not based on factual or rational observation.  This would include, for example, name-calling or judging or condemnation.

But sometimes when I discuss matters of faith with other people and encourage them to think critically about what they believe, to question their assumptions, and to be aware of troubling information, they are personally offended. Hurt feelings and anger sometime arise.

When we feel angry about faith questions raised by others, I think we need to resolve the source of that anger. If it is caused by callous rudeness on the part of another person, the anger is to be expected. But if it is because we are being challenged to question our core assumptions, our paradigm if you will, then perhaps that anger is telling us something about our own beliefs.

Consider this hypothetical example. If I am confident that the gospel is true, and I am confronted with antagonism from someone else towards the gospel, then there is no reason for me to be angry at that person. His failure to believe in the gospel is not a personal affront against me because the gospel is not my personal project, it is not something that I have invented. Instead, it is an affront against God, and God is infinitely greater than I am. So why should I feel belittled by his reaction. His reaction doesnít make the gospel any less true unless I donít really believe in it. And if I donít really believe in it, then I depend his approval and the approval of others to reinforce the gospel in my mind. In that case, his failure to approve the gospel tears at a core part of my paradigm. And this is possibly the source of my anger.

To the contrary, if I really believe in the gospel, I donít need the approval of other individuals to confirm my belief. Antagonism from others doesnít change its truthfulness and shouldnít evoke anger in me. Instead, such antagonism should evoke my concern for the doubter instead of anger towards him. I should want him to accept the gospel for his benefit, not for mine.

So, when I encounter someone who is angered by critical questioning of his faith, it is clear to me that he is very unsure of that faith. That is a very fragile and uncertain faith. It may not be real faith at all.