Thank you Wally, I like your reference to Fiddler on the Roof. I can connect with Tevye. I agree with you that if everybody is “right”, then there are not accusations of wrong and defenses are kept down so dialogue can flow. Through the dialogue, individuals are free to alter their thoughts and beliefs as they deem appropriate and everybody involved, grows.
I have done a number of funerals where I do not know the people or their relationship with God. I do not talk about heaven or hell. I talk about God’s relationship with the individual and leave him/her in God’s hands. From there I talk about God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
I recently read an article about what is one’s authority when discussing things “theological” or “religious”. Typically the word, i.e. the Bible is the authority. This article showed that in his gospel account, John: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God … The Word became flesh.” (John 1:1, 14) This is Jesus. So now, the article goes on to say that Jesus is the authority and uses the Sermon on the Mount as our guidance in living in relationship with him.
Jesus did not push himself on anyone, nor did he judge and condemn. I use this in my relationships and dialogues with other people and how I do ministry.