Without this capacity to imagine that things elsewhere in the world are sometimes radically different from what we know, we can find the rest of the world to be a place of darkness or even threat. [. . .] It goes without saying that it is important to know something of where another person is coming from in any attempt to communicate with them. Expecting them always to understand our words and our point of view because we are shouting a bit louder, is demeaning and insulting.
Those of us who claim to be Christian realise, on reflection, that our faith is a complex combination of thinking, feeling and knowledge as well as experience. In a subtle way faith binds together all these elements of personal experience with a body of knowledge which we call the Christian Tradition. If someone tried to persuade me to express my Christian hope in a few sentences, I would probably try to refuse.My position would be that any verbal expression of the totality of the Christian faith as I understand it, would do violence to its integrity. The few words that I might eventually use to explain my faith would be words that never tried to enclose or define anything. They would always be words that pointed beyond themselves to hint at a deeper, wider and broader reality than I could possibly convey only through the use of words. It is because of this that I instinctively shudder at the sight of the street evangelist with his uncompromising message of repentance or destruction.