The bevy of blind men describing the elephant comes to mind, comparing the smoothness of the tusk to the length of its trunk. If, as Charles Scriven has suggested, they had “dialogued with humility” they would have formed a more accurate picture of what an elephant looks like.
The monkey wrench to “humble dialogue” is human nature. There will always be someone, or some group, that claims “special knowledge,” be it prophetic; or gnostic; or intellectual. True dialogue does require humility, as Scriven opines; and as we all know, that is in short supply in any association. Education might seem like the answer, but then we have to ask, “educated by whom?”
There was a time I had embarked on a quest to find the roots of my Christianity by ignoring all the influences that had made me a Christian - a futile endeavor, obviously. I found that while we can’t ignore the steps that lead us to the point in the path we are presently standing, we can, with “humility” listen to other voices with perspectives far different from our own; and come to new revelations and renewed perspectives of our own. If we, as we walk that path, try to muffle and discard the other voices, we erect walls of separation in which “dialogue” is meaningless.
In this age of instant communication and far reaching communities, it’s futile to attempt to muffle those voices. In fact, this might be just the time the Bible describes, when the gospel can reach every corner of the globe; but that gospel may not be coming from the ecclesiastical fortresses we have erected, along with their official pronouncements. The gospel may come from the simplicity of ordinary lives struggling to just “get through the night” of human existence.
With regard to the proliferation of knowledge through the 21st century community, specific to our little corner of ecclesia, we can expect consequences to what just happened in the life of the church, as pastors, ordained by blessings from San Antonio, will be preaching to rows of increasingly empty pews. And as dialogue is suppressed, the remaining voices become only echoes bouncing from the walls of fortified ivory towers.