The other day, someone accused me of having my "rules set in stone." He was angry with me for insisting our verbal agreement be carried out as we had discussed. At about the same time, a Christian brother sent me an e-mail (or three), saying I had made disparaging comments about the author of an article he had sent me. While the first accusation is true, I do see agreements as equal to contracts and therefore "set in stone," the second is symptomatic of faulty thinking.
I have always believed that if I said I was going to do something, people ought to be able to take me at my word. Years ago, long before the law schools turned out a sea of greedy opportunists, a man's handshake was his bond. Today, many folks use legal "loopholes" to escape responsibility. Many contracts are written using "legalese" to cloud the agreement or to hide "escape clauses." And as for my "rules being set in stone," there is a great precedent for it in Exodus 31:18. My advice is to remember that our testimony is only as good as our reputation; if people cannot trust what we say, they certainly will not trust what we "preach." Because of this, I suggest Christians pay attention to the Apostle James' admonition:
"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (Jam. 4:13-15).
As for the accusation that I wrote disparaging comments about another Christian, I did not. What I said was:
1). The Word of God is 100% truth and therefore cannot contradict itself.
2). The Holy Spirit cannot teach two Christians contradictory "truths."
3). Since the author's understanding of a doctrine is diametrically opposed to my understanding, there are only three possible conclusions to be made: he is right, I am right, or neither of us is right.
4). Therefore, because I believe my understanding is correct, it stands to reason that I believe his is incorrect. That does not mean I am, in any way, criticizing him. I am simply saying I believe he is wrong.
5). Finally, in response to the statement that no Christian is right about everything, and therefore I should not be dogmatic, I agree. However, it is quite possible to be correct on a given doctrine and I feel absolutely certain I am correct on the subject in question.
I have always heard it said, "We can agree to disagree" and still be in fellowship with one another. That is true, but it does not mean we should compromise on doctrine. There are no gray areas when it comes to truth.