Trustworthy Rival

Charles Randall Paul from the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy first coined the term, "trustworthy opponent" to describe someone that "1) sincerely cares about my well-being, 2) competently understands why we oppose each other, 3) refuses to misrepresent my views or his/hers, 4) engages our contest by means of open persuasion without threat of coercion."

 After discovering that many people don’t hold those who criticize or contest their religious or ideological beliefs as "opponents," Paul found that simply referring to others as  "people holding rival views" was a better fit for people.  However, to merely say "people who hold different views" Paul said, felt "just too wimpy, and did not describe the activist to activist contestation that pervades the world. So I came to say we are aiming to help trustworthy rivals engage in respectful contestation with a goal of living in continual peaceful tension."

 Why continual?  According to Paul, "even when conversion occurs to the ‘same way or belief’ inevitably members of a tribe come to disagree about important matters—and intra-religious contestation arises."

 It is only when not "expected" as a part of the normal course of life that this tension becomes disturbing, Paul points out, adding:   "If we expect orthodox tribe members to continue respectful contestation, then we can live in peace (but not tranquillity!) together."  

 Paul notes:  "You will see that TRUSTWORTHY is the operative adjective.  Trust derives from experience with another who has sufficiently communicated a) good motives, b) proven competence, and c) adequate access to resources to be granted trust.  Then verification is required to keep up the relationship of trust."

Contributors: 

Jacob Hess

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