Community and Truth
I'm recognized as the primary teacher in our community and am counted upon week to week to deliver a talk. However, I've started to relax that expectation a bit by opening up the teaching time as a discussion opportunity. Even though I do have an opinion (and that can't be helped), I hope I communicate that I hold my opinion loosely. I do not hold a monopoly on truth. I do not want to open the floor to simple confirmations of what I am saying, but to real and genuine discussion as we earnestly explore truth and its implications together.
In fact, it isn't enough for me to declare a truth statement and have it supported or challenged, affirmed or denied in a community setting. The members of the community must truly know that they have the complete freedom to search for truth and discover it for themselves. And even when we do "discover" it, we again hold this discovery loosely because we know it isn't the end statement, the conclusion, the final assertion to annihilate all other assertions.
I believe this is crucial for the health of a community. There is no other way, in fact, for us to exist as true community... the ultimate community being the whole human race. This is the only possible way for my specific community... a Christian (religion) Vineyard (denomination) Church (local tribe) to exist in love both inward and outward. This is the only possible way for us to exist as a religious group among other religious groups, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, or whatever, and for them to exist among us.
Let me boil this down more specifically: my wife Lisa and I disagree theologically on certain issues. Centuries past I could've had her burned as a witch or she could've turned me in as a heretic to be quartered by horses. But in order for love to determine the nature of our relationship and to actually maintain it, we hold our opinions lightly and are honestly open for change. This is the only way community can work. Conformity against one's intelligence or will does not community make.
I can't see, personally, how love would have it any other way.