Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Same Facts, Different Interpretation

During our trip to LSU via Indianapolis and back we blew two tires and lost our passenger mirror. When the first tire went we were a short distance from an exit with a big rig tire repair shop. When the inner tire gave way, there was no sway of the vehicle and the other tire held to allow us to get to the tire shop.

When the second tire went on the driver front six days later, I was surprised that there was no strong pull to the left and we were able to slow down onto the shoulder in heavy traffic without incident. We waited four hours for the auto club guy to arrive when the fire department pulled up looking for a grass fire. Within twenty minutes their dispatch had a guy on the way to change the tire, and do it free (he wanted gas money).

We lost the mirror at the half-way point but were able to find a temporary mirror to install. We were also happy that the gas prices decreased by about 17% from what we had anticipated and our gas mileage was stronger than normal by about 8% both of which helps the budget on 3,500 mile trip.

Those are the facts. This past weekend on our trip to Leola Evie and chatted about what happened. An interesting dialogue ensued as to how to interpret those facts. I concluded that one’s faith colors how one interprets the events. Though not an exhaustive list, here are some of the options for interpreting the same facts.

1. Evangelical Christian – Thanks God for his protection and grace.
2. Fundamentalist Baptist/Reformed – Thanks God for His providence and for being part of the elect.
3. Nominal Christian – May not give thought to God unless someone mentions him.
4. Liberal Christian – These things happen to the good and the bad. It is just part of life.
5. A person not having faith – sees it as just part of life. May or may not be frustrated and angry by the events, but such emotional expression is due to their personality type.

I also think that the faith position of those experiencing the events colors how a firm evangelical may well interpret the events. Our perception of the person can color the interpretation of what has happened to another person. Here are some options, again not an exclusive list.

1. An evangelical speaking to Christian experiencing the events – “God has been gracious to you. Give thanks.”
2. An evangelical speaking to a person who he/she sees as not being saved but having some belief in God – “God protected you as His way to remind you that He loves you.”
3. An evangelical speaking to a person who he/she sees as not having any faith or belief that God exists – “God is showing you that He exists.”
4. An evangelical speaking to a person who he/she sees as once having faith but has entered into a backslidden state – “God has warned you and is giving you an opportunity to repent/return.”

I would be interested in your thoughts.

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