Welcome to the 6th post of Journey in Dialog. In the New Testament of the Bible, we find that Jesus was a great question asker. He was also good at listening to others. Often when he listened, he would ask deeper-level questions, not because he didn’t have answers to the questions that people asked him, but because he knew how to use questions to encourage serious thinking and better lives.
Jesus had a transformational relationship with people – they became “New Creations.” How did that happen? My hypothesis is that through dialog, Jesus raised the consciousness level of people to one of spiritual transformation.
Early Christians gathered and shared their impressions about what they heard and what each of them thought what they heard meant. There was very little written down to instruct them about what was called The Way. They listened for what made sense to them. Information and experience provided a convincing basis for their faith.
Like Socrates, with whom we dealt in post #3, Jesus did not commit his teachings to writing. Why not? I think that Jesus wanted his hearers not to get locked into written words but to use their brains to grow in understanding the Truth by which they should shape their lives.
My college dorm neighbor and friend, Bill (Dr. William T.) Iverson, wrote a book about Jesus and Socrates. Bill and I are at different places on the yardstick that measures liberal and conservative, but we bond on the role that dialog played with Socrates and Jesus. The rest of this post will consist of quotes that I am cherry-picking from Bill’s substantive book.
Socrates was secure enough to speak with philosophers and teenagers according each the same firm discipline of the “search.” … Socrates did not so much impart great corpus of knowledge as he did of himself – his unique person, his attitude, and his lifestyle.
Socrates listens with his whole being. … The effect of active listening is phenomenal. … Such a relationship draws forth from the other person, as the rays of the sun from the sea, the distilled truth, which is there.
Jesus also practiced the humane and winsome didactics of Socrates. It was a different time and place, in a unique culture, yet there are striking parallels. Socrates dealt with human values moving toward the Absolute. Jesus assumed the Absolute, and dealt with human values.
P.S. Earlier in my journey in dialog, I differentiated a more common use of the term “dialog” from my view of it by calling it “robust dialog.” More recently, I have used the term, “serious dialog.” As I dig deeper in what I think dialog is about, I will use the term, “transformational dialog.” As the remaining posts unfold, I will attempt to make the case that dialog is a transformational experience.
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 William T. Iverson, Jesus and the Ways of Socrates, Human-Shaped Education for the Twenty-First Century