Sunday, June 5, 2011

Deniers and Christians

Recently Frontline (a series on PBS) did a special concerning the anti-vaccine movement. The program shows both sides of the debate, including the leading vaccination scientists as well as the not-so-scientific leaders (my distinction, not theirs)of the anti-vaccination movement. The scientists cite leading medical journals, while the anti-vaccine activists made comments such as “I did not have all of these vaccines when I was that age, and I turned out okay.”
Although I think Immunology is very interesting, what interests me more is the thinking behind vaccine denial. National Public Radio’s “Science Friday” series also did an episode concerning vaccine denial in which they allowed vaccine deniers to debate with a top immunologist. In the end of the episode, most of the deniers basically said that there was nothing the scientist could say that would be sufficiently convincing for them to change their views. They were committed to denying.
In Matthew 11, Jesus confronts this type of thinking. He speaks of John the Baptist, who despite being on the same religious side, was in many ways Jesus’ opposite. John criticized the culture at the time from the outside, living in the forest and asking them to repent. Jesus’ approach was very different. He went into the city, accepted the wedding invitations, and spoke in the synagogues. In verse 18, Jesus mentions how both he and John were criticized for these approaches, suggesting that no approach would have been free of their criticism. 
I think this chapter is very relevant today because it can be very easy for Christians to assume that our opinions are always right. We stick to a set of talking points and fail to consider another perspective. In this way, we fail to show Christ’s love to others while trying to oppress them with our own agenda. 
What would it look like if the Christians around the world started to be open-minded, valuing others’ thoughts and perspectives? Would the Church be a more Christ-centered body?

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