A Change of Menu

If a member of any church comes finally to an opinion that requires him to leave it for doctrinal reasons, this rarely comes about through anything involving contention, which tends to harden rather than soften previous beliefs. For people with firm principles and good brains, the natural reaction to polemics is to dig in and reinforce their bulwarks rather than to surrender. The coming to another opinion on fundamental matters is normally the result of a pilgrimage in which the mind is free to consider what it will, rather than a capture at war. This is very difficult to understand for apologists who want to win fights on the basis of irrefutable evidence launched from ironclad systems.

If I wanted someone to consider a great change of mind, I would not deliver reasons at gunpoint, but insinuate them at a good meal, inviting him to eat well and go in peace to digest it. This is a dangerous method, for it must be based on the evangelist’s firm conviction of his own rightness. The great risk is that the guest thus served may discover the flaws in his host’s religion as well as his own, and the whole matter must end in the sad resort of being turned over to God.

S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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