Pricking balloons?

pricking balloonsOne of the reasons for my lack of blogging (besides being a widowed father of six) is that I’m back in the classroom, the virtual classroom of SBTS. I am studying Intercultural Communication and one of the highlights has been the assigned reading. I’ve enjoyed David Hesselgrave’s [amazon_link id=”0310368111″ target=”_blank” ]Communicating Christ Cross-culturally[/amazon_link].

His point about how we as Christian should interact with those of other religions is excellent. It is tempting to take a shortcut and pick on the most glaring problems or inconsistencies. My seminary prof Dr. Barker cautioned us against setting up straw men that were easy to knock down. Hesselgrave introduces the metaphor of pricking balloons and commends a better approach:

Missionaries must be prepared to deal with false systems of religion and philosophy, not primarily at the points of their weaknesses, inconsistencies, and inadequacies but at the points of their strength. Examples of strength are numerous. The contributions of Buddhism to the arts of China and Japan are a matter of record. The attraction of Hindu inclusivism in a divided world is incontrovertible. The fascination with which many view mysticism and transcendental experiences is evident in the West as well as in the East. The fact that adherents of Taoism are much more appreciative of the world around them than are many Christians who ostensibly accept that world as a gift of the Creator is plain to see. We must learn to deal with the best case that the nonChristian can make, not with the weakest case, lest we succeed only in pricking balloons and knocking down straw men. To deal honestly and sympathetically with the best case that any form of false belief can make, and then show the desperate need that still remains to be met by the true God and his redeeming Son–this is the more excellent way.

([amazon_link id=”0310368111″ target=”_blank” ]Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally[/amazon_link], David Hesselgrave, p. 148)

How often have you resorted to pricking balloons? With what kind of results?