Talking

Communication problems

Most of us have tried having talking with someone and realised our words were like water rolling off a duck’s back. The other person heard our words but did not understand them the way we meant. No matter how we tried to explain our position, the other person was just not comprehending. We’ve all been on both sides of these conversations. Such efforts find us just talking past one another rather than effectively communicating.

The thing missing in these instances is a lack of knowledge about the presuppositions of one another. Honest communication is impossible without each person knowing what shapes the other’s way of looking at and understanding the world. We all presuppose, so we all have presuppositions. They undergird, shape, and inform our worldview.

We suppose that water is wet because we’ve been told it is, and because we’ve experienced it. We suppose that water from the sea is salty, and that from the bottle isn’t, because we’ve experienced it.

So it is with matters of faith and the way that we live them out.

People who believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchangeable, and that He has communicated to mankind through His created order–most specifically through Jesus and the Bible–look at the world through that lens. Those that believe mankind is the source of all knowledge, and that popular science should dictate our approach to life and morals, look through that lens and order their lives accordingly.

These two sides can understand one another if they honour each other’s presuppositions, but they will never agree because those views are mutually exclusive. They butt heads like two big rams fighting over the ewes. Neither will cease until the other surrenders.

Jesus’ disciples were, at first, slow to understand. Prior to his crucifixion, he told them on multiple occasions that he must be betrayed, killed, and that he would rise again on the third day. Yet, on the day of his resurrection, with the empty tomb in front of them, the apostle John tells us, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”

What changed their worldview? What enabled them to stop talking past one another? Something outside of them made the change. It was the power of the Holy Ghost having raised Jesus from the grave: nothing or no one else. And nothing else will change those who oppose and fight against him. Surrender to Jesus those who are in opposition to him, that they might be given a better mind, and try to live up to the faith you profess.

Originally appeared in the Caymanian Times.

  • Chris Pierce is an Anglican minister in Northern Ireland.

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