An intellectually religious site I read, Internet Monk, has a melancholy passage about how difficult he finds it to convince unbelievers, and what approaches work best. I respect his writing, but the post he links to kinda freaks me out. This inspired general thoughts on relativism and political dialogue.
The next time you are about to begin an argument with someone, ask yourself this question: how likely are they to convince you of the opposing view? I’m not saying that the opposite view is always legitimate, or that in all cases people are equally combative or receptive. But the desire to spread your views to others and maintain your own certainty is pretty universal.
This is why our society for a while stopped arguing over religion. Michael, it is not simply a matter of you trying to tell some non-Christian (or in your case non-Calvinist) about the gospel, and whether that effort is worth the chance of them being saved. It is also about the effort they are going to expend to try to convert you.
Do you want to read a similar “letter from an atheist”? I’m sure I could find a heartfelt one for you. Do you think it will work and save you and your flock from anti-materialistic spiritual distractions? Certainly not, you’re far too proud and convinced for that. And I respect that!
Politically speaking, this applies to the dialogue we ask out of politicians. Many, many extremists demand that their party take harder lines, especially on issues where they may be in the minority (socialism, culture wars, etc.) and “convince” Americans or the other side of the worthiness of their cause. People feel strongly darnit, and if a thousand raging horses couldn’t convince you to oppose gun-control, what makes you think you could convince a GOP voter to support gun-control? (Or vice-versa as the case may be.)
Humility, the willingness to change sides, and a lack of fire in the heart is what characterizes political moderates. And this is why I continue to advocate for centrist politicians and institutions which support the power of moderates to tip the balance.