Jockeystreet wrote of a co-worker who has Down's Syndome:
I like Steve. A lot. He's a good guy. And I don't say that in a paternalistic "isn't he sweet and cute and retarded" sort of way. I like Steve. Steve is a good guy.
Steve thinks my name is Mike.
My name's not Mike. My name is Jim.
Steve doesn't accidentally call me Mike. It's not a slip of the tongue, something that he forgets and then quickly corrects. And he doesn't confuse me with a guy named Mike. He just thinks my name is Mike. It doesn't matter how many times I remind him that my name is, in fact, Jim. He might remember for a minute or two minutes after I've reminded him, after he's said it back to me a couple of times. Next time he sees me, though, he's going to call me Mike again. I don't know why. And I don't particularly mind. I like Steve. Steve likes me. He's just not so good at remembering the name (actually, correct that; he remembers fine; he always calls me Mike, not Joe or Bob or Andy or Greg; he just remembers the wrong name).
It has never occured to me to poke Steve in the eye for calling me Mike. It has never occured to me to turn my back on him, walk away, and never speak with him again. It hasn't really occured to me to take it personally. There are a lot of things that I just don't get, but I very much get the fact that Steve and I are on different levels, that Steve is doing his best, that Steve likes being around me, and that there's no reason for me to feel insecure or slighted over the name thing.
Read it all, for Jockeystreet is a good storyteller and wordsmith. He then compared his unconcern with Steve's mistake with doctrinal generosity, or the lack thereof:
Why is it that we want to attribute to God an ego so fragile that it can't tolerate well-meaning believers getting a few facts wrong? Why is it that we believe that God's self-worth is so conditional that mixing up some of the biographical information is a sure way to earn his wrath?
Why, when it comes to God, do so many people want to convince me that what matters isn't the desire you have to grow closer, isn't the effort you make to conform to his will, isn't the openness you have to faith and love, isn't the compassion you feel for his people, but is, rather, your ability to call him by the proper name, your assent to certain historical details as fact and others as fiction.
We are not saved by orthodox beliefs. We are saved by a God who searches our hearts. As John Wesley said:
I say of the heart. For neither does religion consist in Orthodoxy, or right opinions; which, although they are not properly outward things, are not in the heart, but the understanding. A man may be orthodox in every point; he may not only espouse right opinions, but zealously defend them against all opposers; he may think justly concerning the incarnation of our Lord, concerning the ever-blessed Trinity, and every other doctrine contained in the oracles of God; he may assent to all the three creeds, -- that called the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian; and yet it is possible he may have no religion at all, no more than a Jew, Turk, or pagan. He may be almost as orthodox -- as the devil, (though, indeed, not altogether; for every man errs in something; whereas we can't well conceive him to hold any erroneous opinion,) and may, all the while be as great a stranger as he to the religion of the heart.
Within certain boundaries, I agree that the 'right opinions' don't matter. If Steve calls Jim 'Mike', Jim still knows who he's talking to. If Steve calls a flowerpot 'Mike' and talks with it, then there are problems. One's understanding of God can be sufficiently wrong that one is talking to a creature other than God.
The hard part is determining those boundaries.