I’ll go ahead and admit it.
The title of this article was intentional.
I wanted it to accomplish two things:
First, I wanted it to prompt you actually to read the article. 🙂
Second, I pray it prepares the soil for the upcoming podcasts I’m releasing – starting this month.
This is how…
I’m afraid we are guilty of confirmation bias. You know what I mean. Everything we read we interpret as a reinforcement of things we’ve already chosen to believe. Any evidence contrary to those presupposed beliefs is written off as wrong or inaccurate.
To make matters worse, we tend to attach people’s eternal salvation to non-salvation issues.
Remember back in the day when wearing makeup would send women to hell?
Remember if you played a game of Spades or watched a movie? You might as well be the anti-christ.
We were soooo convinced back then that we were right, only to find out we were dreadfully wrong.
What makes us so sure we’ve got it perfect this time?
Let me put it into today’s context:
- If you support evolution, then we assume you deny Genesis, hate God’s word, are a heretic, and quite possibly should be burned at the stake – at a minimum crucified by the vitriol our Facebook comments.
- If you voted for Barack Obama, then you cannot possibly be a Christian, and if you did not get on the Trump train, well, who even are you?
- If you think the Left Behind series is not in fact how the world is going to end, then you are part of the great, backslidden, apostate church.
- If you do not think that Israel’s land is a promise still in effect today, then we can’t even with you right now.
*Please note: I have not shared my beliefs on the above topics. These are the viewpoints that I’ve noticed draw the most ire. That is why I included them. The list could go on and on.*
We desperately need to develop the ability to play gracefully with other ideas. Truth can stand up under scrutiny. Take it apart as best you can, and truth will always resurrect itself.
It’s quite something really. I engage frequently with wonderful pastors and leaders who have spent their lives championing the cause of the Gospel, sacrificed deeply to bring people to Jesus, but are terrified to share their thoughts on specific topics because they know their lifelong service in pastoral ministry can be undone so easily by sharing a single viewpoint that deviates from what the majority deems as “right.”
Yes, the very same majority that has been wrong before. I know because I’ve been in that majority more times than I like to admit. I’ve had my own theology rearranged enough that I hold loosely to certain things while clinging for dear life to others. Without a doubt, some things are non-negotiable. However, it’s often not what we think, nor are the “non-negotiables” as numerous as we suggest.
Let’s start here:
- The Bible is God’s word.
- Jesus is God’s son.
- He was raised from the dead.
- He is the only way to the Father.
Issues like creationism, the rapture, Harry Potter, whether or not a Christian should use CBD oil (I’ve been asked more than once)… Those don’t make the list, and for good reason.
*I know some of you are bristling right now reading this, thinking I’ve lost my mind, left the reservation, turned into a compromiser who doesn’t stand for truth. Please, hang in here with me.*
Let’s think deeper. Let’s have an actual dialogue about important issues, and then still respect each other afterward.
I’ll end with one of my favorite figures in church history; the man himself, Charles Finney. A brilliant lawyer and burning revivalist, he provided some much-needed direction in the introduction to his systematic theology. We love him today, but he was so counter-cultural to mainstream thinking that we would have hated him then.
Here he goes:
“You were made to think. It will do you good to think; to develop your powers by study. God designed that religion should require thought, intense thought, and should thoroughly develop our powers of thought.”
“I have not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so. The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions. Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge.… True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast as we can obtain further information. I call this Christian consistency, because this course alone accords with a Christian profession. A Christian profession implies the profession of candor and of a disposition to know and obey all truth. It must follow that Christian consistency implies continued investigation and change of views and practice in conformity with increasing knowledge. No Christian, therefore, and no theologian should be afraid to change his views, his language, or his practices in conformity with increasing light.”
“If my brother is inquiring after truth, I will, by the grace of God, “hear with both ears, and then judge.” To all honest inquirers after truth I would say, Hail, my brother! Let us be thorough. Truth shall do us good.”
It shall do us good indeed.
PS – Can’t wait to connect with you on the podcast. Sign up here to be the first to know when it releases.