February 05, 2016

Zealots

Human belief systems extend across a wide spectrum of philosophical vision. Theological views range all the way from people who immerse themselves in the spiritual, to individuals who refuse to believe anything they can not experience with the five human physical senses. Religious practices span the spectrum of emotions from the strict observance of canon, to a rejection of theological belief in any form. The political spectrum includes democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, liberalism, dictatorship, monarchy, and just about any combination of these political systems one can imagine. There are also authoritarian belief systems within science, economics, education, the stock market, and every other human endeavor.

And every system of beliefs has its self appointed zealots.

Zealots typically demonstrate stubborn intellectual inflexibility. Emotion drives reason and limits introspection. Fanatical belief rejects knowledge and logical choice. Sacrosanct opinions are preserved with tenacious passion. Alternative views are avoided or treated with disdain. Zealots believe they are right. Everyone else is wrong.  They can become very defensive when confronted with new concepts or facts that threaten established belief. Argument frequently degenerates into a blind regurgitation of parochial conviction. The greater the challenge of alternative concepts, the more obstinate the proclamation of opinion. Those who don’t believe the preferred theology are adversaries. They must be shunned, belittled, or eliminated.

Let history and current events be our guide. It should not surprise us to discover every religion and every political system has its zealots. These are people who refuse to acknowledge any alternative viewpoint. Zealots are quick to anger, slow to forgive. For extreme zealots, self righteousness conviction infused with passion justifies destructive behavior, lustful murder, and atrocious cruelty.

What is the alternative?

By contrast, those who practice the Christian concepts of love and compassion approach new ideas with a thoughtful, confident, positive and constructive attitude. They know doctrinaire obedience to established belief limits learning and personal growth. An environment of open and friendly discussion is more likely to bring us closer to a mutually beneficial understanding of reality – even when we choose to disagree.

So let us ask ourselves two questions. Is the harmony of love more welcome than the conflict of divisive hatred?  Does the quest for peace demand we come together, trust one another, share our thoughts, and respect constructive discourse?  If so, then let us not be like the zealots. Rather, let us come together with a spirit of compassion. May we use the intelligence God has given us to seek the wisdom of truth together.

Remember the lesson God has taught us.

If we work together,

If we love one another,

We can accomplish great things.



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