Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Talking About Scripture Together Without Talking In Circles

My goal in this blog is to provide inquirers with a quick read on who I am and why. To post my perspectives while not really asking or posing any questions, although without discouraging comments either. Hopefully, filling in some missing information for those who need to know more about a comment I've made somewhere else in the blogisphere or elsewhere. And probably partly, to provide a record, in print, for myself, of thoughts and opinions I have. Primarily to frame who I am for anyone who is curious.

The blogisphere is by far the best means yet for dissecting ideas with others on-line. No more or no less useful than the care and attention given it by those who use it. Therefore, a lot of wasteful arguing often ensues. I remember at one point in my twenties watching Phil Donahue quite a bit and seeing, show after show, the crowd never working toward a resolution of the question at hand. How tiresome that got. How without any use that is. Since there was no agreement even being strived for most of the time, I couldn't justify wasting my time getting all worked up over the issues when noone was really looking for a solution, but only for things to be seen their way.

The same thing happens in the blogisphere. Luckily, in the Christian blogisphere we can refer to the Truth. The bible. Our God tells us He is not the God of confusion. So if what a person finds themselves saying in these blogs is confusing, or not clearly backed up by scripture, or is backed up by scripture but simply not being represented clearly by that person, then how worthwhile is your time being spent? Perhaps you should be studying more and talking less, therby letting the whole of your studies in God's word season inside of you a bit. As long as you see how He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life, then you have the most important victory available to you. That's why I try to be quiet. That's when I learn the most. That took me a long time to learn and primarily through time after time making a fool of myself by speaking too soon. I can still do that. I'm sure it will be a lifelong battle to learn how to wait until I've weighed my words carefully before I turn them loose.Very few things are as important as that.

I have a funny way of blogging. I tend to come back to a post for days after I have posted it and fine tune it and fine tune it. It is a record of my thoughts about something that I am trying to say as completely and effectively as possible, oftentimes for my own future reference. So with that in mind, the following is a comment I posted on the comment page of someone elses blog. It doesn't really matter where or even what the question was. It took me an hour to write and I want to preserve alot of the thoughts contained in it about debating things in the bible that are less than clear, and my opinion on part of the approach we as Christians need to keep in mind, as we dialogue on what the bible says to us individually.

I find it unsettling and disheartening that when I meet other Christians and want to share in conversation about things in Gods word that each of us finds exciting, that we can't, because we don't believe in the same thing. That we're talking from different theologies, or differing bible translations or some other difference. People get defensive. That's wrong. Christian biblical truth has been muddled by many great thinkers who stopped short of trying to strive to be of one mind, that is ultimately Christ's, as He has instructed us to do. He tells us we have the mind of Christ. I suppose that is a combination of having God's word and the Holy Spirit to help us understand the wisdom and knowledge that is contained in it. He is not a God of confusion and fragmentation. There are a lot more sensible things to be said on the subject than I am going to say right here, that's for sure, but this, and what follows, is a start.

Comment Reference:
I think if we all went by "what we can know for sure" from the bible, then we would be attaining more closely to "the unity of the one mind of Christ". It's terribly easy to speculate further about the real meanings of God's word that are not real clear, and in my opinion, harmless if done in the right way, but is also sternly warned against. And some very sensible arguements are made against speculating (I use the word "speculations" from the NASB) as well, by the apostles that should be easily understood. We want to know it "all" though, as the presently fleshly children of God, and it can be very divisive. The average person covets that power of all-knowledge. With very bright men all through history, it has been shown that their modest power can go wildly wrong. But at least we've stopped slaughtering each other over it for the time being.

My point is that there is much more that we wish we could know than we have been permitted to know given the information revealed to us by God, by His design I believe, and we have to contain ourselves wisely in the zealous pursuit to know more of it. Yet, instead, we tend to fret about it and warn each other Christians about our own imaginings and speculations. That is a wasteful fleshly undertaking which has gained almost truthlike acceptance, to me testifying also to the abundance of mutually unaccepting denominations.

There is nothing more enlightening and productive than active dialogue and even lively debate towards growth and understanding of God's word. But then draw back and conclude in what we can know for sure and letting each man struggle with the unknowable in his own way. This battle of theologies we are in in the Christian world, to me is a classic example of being "in Apollos" or "in Cephas" or "in Paul" or "in Calvin". We are told, and have seen, it causes problems. It caused big problems for the Anabaptists in Calvin's day as well as many others. That's a dramatic example, but how is a person sopposed to process all of that history. Calvin got some big ones wrong! Some of his conclusions are revolting to other Christians when put alongside other things we are told by God, for sure, about salvation, assurance, the sinful nature, etc. And his speculations have caused alot of unrest in the body of Christ. They have helped many but might their absence have helped many more? Now, I have but little other choice than to speculate myself.

It seems to me that today there are "Calvinist's" who see the incompleteness of Calvin's ideas and are trying to pick up where he left off and attempt to complete his ideas. That is a worthwhile undertaking. It is just hard to watch the continued fall out amongst Christians from his radical views.

So let us know what we can know, but demand that it pass the test of scripture. If it's not made clear then we are fools to suppose to finish God's work for Him. If it's not made clear by Him then don't give it undue importance that does not come from Him.

There is only one Truth, one right answer. I think sometimes we "think that away" in an effort to over explain things that don't need over explaining.

Divergent viewpoints can be healthy and they can be destructive, even fatal. (I need to find some scripture to back that up, I think it's there somewhere).

Just some points to ponder.

...Yearning for that peace in the Body of believers that is probably not reasonable to think will come on this earth until that great day.

Until that great day, Todd

See you next time!


ambiance-five said...

Wonderful thoughts Todd,

God bless.

jeff said...

Well Todd, I think you made good use of your four hours of blogging! And I know you'll be back to read this before next week!

Todd said...

It's already calling me back. I'm glad that Rose found some usefulness in it.

I appreciate that.

Gordon Cloud said...

Very good point. Much of the debate on Christian blogs is by people who would claim they are "earnestly contending for the faith". Yet, I suspect that most of it is actually rooted in good ol' human nature: needing to be right and needing to be heard.

Todd said...

Well yes, seriously Gordon, doesn't it seem like it boils down to just that. A battle against our own human nature. The flesh. "He who rules his spirit is better than he who captures a city". I think that tells us that it's hard to dicipline ourselves toward the truth, "incline our hearts to understanding", without being detoured by our own ways. I think the most intellectually gifted among us are even at the greatest risk of straying.
But this is where He tells us we should look:
"He who gives attention to the word will find good" (Pr.16:20)

This proverb seems like a good test for a teacher/theologian or other, no?:
"When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" Pr.16:7

Good teachers are also important in the growth process. I've just recently taken to saying, "Don't find a simpler bible, find a better teacher".

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Gordon.