In a couple of articles (083) (084) we discussed the possibility of harmony within a community of religious diversity. We asked if it is possible to have community unity in such a setting. We gave three possible ways for unity to exist in the face of that diversity: 1) If everyone says let's set aside those teachings that divide us and just love one another, harmony can exist; 2) If everyone in the community has a deep sense of personal significance and security so that differing personal opinions do not ruffle feathers harmony can occur; and 3) If those who have no strong convictions are willing to go along with those who do, and if those who do are all of the same group, harmony can exist.
The facts are, however, that none of these three possibilities is workable in reality.
In this article I want to explore why that is so. First, what about the first option: setting aside doctrinal differences in order to love and have harmony? Why can't this work? First, the Bible says that true love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of spiritual believers in Christ. Since, in any given community, the majority are not filled with the Spirit, love cannot be exercised by all. If love cannot be exercised by all, it is impossible for harmony to exist on the basis of mutual love.
Second, since the statement that the Bible's declaration that only Spirit-filled believers can walk in genuine love is a doctrinal statement, it is impossible for those who believe it to set it aside for some lesser definition of love, or for some wider application of the concept of love. Most people, who do not have a realistic biblical concept of love, have perverted love to mean whatever I benefit from. Thus, when they are subjected to events that are clearly to their injury, they complain that the one who caused the injury does not love them. This is why people who undergo serious difficulties often rage against God as unloving and lacking in compassion. The problem is not with God. It is, rather, with those who do not know, or understand, the love of God. These very people clearly recognize that the pain of the surgeon's knife is clearly for their benefit. But, they somehow lose sight of the reality that pain can be for our good if they do not have the bigger picture in mind at the time of the pain. So, because they are ignorant, they rage. Raging people are not conducive to community harmony.
Third, people are often insulted by the declaration of doctrinal beliefs. If they are told something that contradicts what they have always believed, they often get very angry with the one who told them. The issue is not whether what they were told is the truth; it is, rather, that someone had to gall to contradict their doctrinal beliefs. People who love the truth don't get bent out of shape when they are confronted with truth-claims that contradict their belief system. Instead, they begin to search to see if what they have heard is really so, and, if so, how they came to be misled. Insulted people are not willing to be harmonious people. There's more. (086)