By Graham Glover –
That’s right, forget your pious friends. Ditch your confessional comrades. Ignore those righteous souls who set you on the straight and narrow. Those folks are boring, predictable, and unworthy of your time.
Instead, find yourself some heretics to hang out with and befriend. You know, those unrighteous heathens that reject the truths you hold sacred. Socialize with the unbeliever. Get to know the apostate. Have a cocktail and a smoke with those whose beliefs make your skin crawl. These are the people you need to surround yourself with and the ones you whose company you should truly appreciate.
I’m only somewhat serious here. Well, maybe I’m 50% serious, but let’s not get distracted by percentages…
The point is that heretics make for good times, oftentimes great friends, and are more worthy of your time than you think. So get off your high horse and get down with the heretic.
Why am I so high on the heretic? Because they are everywhere. They are part of every familial, social, vocational, ecclesial, and political group you belong to. My commendation is simply to recognize the value these heretics play in your life. And once you do that, you’ll want to hang out with more of them, for more hours of the day, perhaps even at the expense of those who confess the same faith, creed, and philosophy that you do.
The sheer number of heretics is not the only (or primary) reason you should surround yourself with them. Rather, their distorted confession, their convoluted creeds, and their asinine philosophical leanings should be a source of great interest and pursuit. Why? Because their views – however wrong they may be – allow you to understand and articulate your own that much more.
Remember, you can’t possibly define one a heretic if you don’t know your own beliefs!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to hang out with people who believe and confess what you do. But after a while it gets boring. The conversation becomes stale. And with no debate, there cannot be true intellectual pursuit. (As an aside, this is why I so often push the theological and political envelope in my posts. Maybe I go too far at times, but I do so for purposes of healthy dialogue and meaningful debate.)
Like you, I work alongside heretics. My family has heretics. My friends, some who admit it – others who shy from it, are heretics. But these heretics keep me honest. They do not let me rest on sound-bites or shallow responses. They challenge my faith and my creed in ways that those who same-say what I do never can. And more often than I realize, the conversations I have with heretics, even when intense and uncomfortable, become a source of great comfort for me as I become more grounded in my faith and more able to respond to those who reject the creeds and teachings that I hold.
So step outside of your comfort zone. Embrace those who come from different political or theological backgrounds. Learn from them. I guarantee if you engage in meaningful dialogue, they will learn from you. If you feel caught off guard, that’s ok. If you “lose” a debate, no worries. Simply recognize your faults and gaps, reground yourself in the teachings of your faith or philosophy, and then reengage your heretic friend. You’ll enjoy the intellectual back and forth and you’ll be better for it.
Heretics really do make good friends. As for their souls, now that’s another story…