June 27, 2017

The Humility Zone

Why our conflicts over the Bible and Theology may sometimes have nothing whatsoever to do with being right.

Every so often, I will have a bit of an Epiphany. I wish I had written them all down, because sometimes the clarity of the moment balances weeks, months, years of confusion and I feel like I’ve learned something that matters.

So here’s one of those moments: Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t give you enough evidence, one way or the other, to settle a question beyond the possibility of a continuing discussion and debate. If this is true, and if the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit does not remove this ambiguity, then there are points beyond which dicsussion and debate ought to proceed only with considerable and generous amounts of respectful humility.

Now, I don’t know if you need to read this seven times (complete, in the Authorized Version) to “get it,” but this is pretty significant stuff, and I would like to recommend that my thoughtful readers consider the implications of this idea, assuming we actually ever acted in accordance with it.

Here’s an example: If I were to survey my 35 years as a Christian, I have probably spent significant amounts of time in friendly, but serious, debate with my fellow Christians over a large selection of important issues. One of those would be the issue of “eternal security.”

When I was a new Christian, my best friends were Methodists. We spent a lot of time debating “once saved, always saved.” We ran texts past each other hour after hour, bound and determined that we were right and that the other fellow simply wasn’t reading the scriptures “rightly.”

When I went to college, it was at a UMC school, and the debate continued, at first with other Christians, and then with my professors. Again, as we battled over the meaning of words and did the math of accumulated texts, it was always a matter of the other fellow not “seeing” what was plainly “there.” God was on my side, in case you didn’t know.

In seminary, I took Introduction to Theology with Dr. Dale Moody. Moody was a world class scholar, and a bit of a maverick. He didn’t believe in eternal security. He would say “26 of the 27 New Testament books teach the possibility of Apostasy.” He even wrote a book on the subject.

Moody was a formidable mind with an amazing reputation (having studied with Barth and Brunner) and knew much of the Greek New Testament by heart. He was accessible, invited debate and courted controversy. He ate know-it-all students for appetizers and big-time challengers for lunch.

We would leave a Moody class, amazed that such a brilliant guy couldn’t see the simple truth that we could all see and understand. His idea that you could lose your salvation wasn’t in the Bible. All he had to do was ask us, his students.

It never occured to us- or to Moody for that matter- that maybe, just maybe, the Bible wasn’t unambiguous on this topic. I never occured to us that we could put all the pieces on the table, arrange them in different ways, and come to different conclusions ALL DAY/YEAR LONG. It never occured to us to conclude that this wasn’t a question like “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” It was a question like, “What will heaven be like?”

Why did this never occur to us? Because, in our respective communities, we were constantly assured that the Bible was unambiguous on EVERYTHING. It was absolutely clear on all issues, which is why we all knew we were right all the time. Our scholars, who knew the greek, assured us that our team was right. (We couldn’t read their stuff, but we could cite them for proof.) Our preachers waved the Bible around and told us, without doubt, God had spoken, and no one could ever lose their salvation.

Now- don’t get me wrong. I believe the Bible teaches eternal secuity. I don’t, however, think this is an unambiguous subject. The author of Hebrews could have been clearer. I’m sure of it. But I have adopted a policy that is quite a bit different from those days when I debated this subject with certainty.

I now believe the Bible is ambiguous enough on this subject, at least when read strictly on the language of the various texts, that I can assume the serious students of scripture on the other team ARE NOT VERY DIFFERENT FROM ME in how they read and interpret these texts.

I’m not smarter. I don’t have more of the Holy Spirit. I’m not blessed with the “right” interpretation handed down through the history of the church. I have my opinions, based on my evidence, and if that evidence was submitted to juries made up of scholars from a Baptist school and a Methodist school….guess what? The verdicts would be predictable.

(By the way, if anyone thinks I am unaware of how liberals can demean conservative Bible believers as “Nazis,” idiots, etc., relax. I’ve met my share zealous PCUSA liberals, and I am well aware that this isn’t a phenomenon confined to one group.)

If you ask me what I believe the Bible teaches, I will tell you. But there is now a kind of humility about this subject that I didn’t use to have, and it’s very useful. I’m a lot less of an obnoxious little horn-tooter. My blood pressure doesn’t rise when a Methodist enters the room. I’m happy around those who differ from me.

Wait. I see that hand. “Perspicuity.” Is that the word? And what does it mean? Theopedia gives a good summary, and it is easy to see that the issue of the ambiguity of the Bible runs head-on into the classic conflicts in Catholicisn and Protestantism over authority. Hank Hannegraff makes a very helpful observation:

“When the Protestant Reformers spoke about the perspicuity of Scripture, they meant that the Bible was clear when it came to its central message. Contrary to the dominant Roman Catholic idea which said that the Bible was difficult and obscure, Protestants said that anyone who is literate could comprehend the gospel and the Scriptures. The Reformers were not saying that all of Scripture was equally understandable or even that scholarly study wasn’t necessary, what they were saying was that the essential clarity of the Word of God was self-evident. Bottom line, they were saying that the Roman idea, that the Magisterium, (or the teaching office) of the church was the only one that could interpret Scripture, was simply in error. Responsible interpretation of the Bible by those in the pews was not only accepted, but also encouraged.” – Hank Hanegraaff

I do not believe it is forsaking the perspicuity of the Scriptures to say that the Bible’s teaching may be clear on the Gospel, but ambiguous enough at other points, that our discussion should be seasoned with humility.

A second example of this type of topic is the issue of credobaptism vs paedobaptism. Oceans of ink have explored the Biblical teaching on this topic, and it varies from respectful discussion that embraces the difficulties of these texts to belligerant harangues that insult all who deviate or disagree.

Several years ago, I discovered that a major reformed pastor had written a “credo and paedo” clause into his church’s constitution.

Chapter 28: Of Baptism Para . 3: We believe that the proper modes of baptism include sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Para . 4: Being a church composed of both paedobaptists and those holding to believer’s baptism, we expressly allow men otherwise qualified to serve as elders, but who hold to believer’s baptism, to make an exception to WCF XXVIII. 4, which states, “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.”

The clause admitted that the church could not come to one heart and mind on this issue, and would accept the judgement of the heads of households as to the Biblical teaching. The pastor was a paedobaptist, but was willing to allow others to have their sincerely held convictions- particularly since he had changed his own position while being pastor of the church!

More recently, another well known reformed pastor is leading his church to consider an “exemption clause” for those seeking membership, but who hold a different position on baptism (paedo) than the church’s official teaching position (credo). In other words, the fight at the door was called off, and enough humility has been embraced to get past the fight. Even though this pastor is a doctrinal bulldog, he is building- on this issue- a humility zone for his church (if they accept it.)

Such developments indicate that the “humility zone” is making an appearance in some quarters of evangelicalism despite their strong insistence- certainly from both pastors mentioned- that scripture is clear and ULTIMATELY unambiguous about the Gospel and much else. Whether we are talking human depravity, or the nature of the Biblical documents themselves, the acceptance of the principle that we may not always be able to state the Bible’s teaching unilaterally is a mark of Christian maturity.

Perhaps this is why it appears to me that the insistence that the Bible is unambiguously, undiscussably, unchallengably clear on every issue seems to be a trait of zealous, often youthful, intellectual arrogance. It is the creed of the person who believes fighting about everything the same way is a virtue. I know that in any army camp, there are fights, wrestlings and boxing matches…but it isn’t guns drawn, bayonets out WAR.

One prominent reformed SBC blog has taken great pains to state that the Bible is absolutely unambiguous on issues where the SBC’s International Mission Board has recently established strict guidelines. One of these guidelines states that a person cannot have spoken in tongues and be a Southern Baptist Missionary. That such a policy could exist while the Bible says “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues,” (1 Corinthians 14:39) and “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy, (14:5) and “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you,” (18) is utterly amazing. Not amazing that someone would conclude that these verses no longer apply, but amazing that sufficent humility couldn’t be found to allow that there might be some ambiguity on exactly what scripture teaches.

The problem, of course, is that uncertainty of any kind is sin to many Bible-believing Christians, and an insult to lots of the smart ones. They see the recognition that scripture may sometimes be less-than-perfectly clear as a surrender on inspiration and authority. Of course, the Apostle Peter himself said that Paul’s writings contained some things that were hard to understand. While we are often reminded that the church councils worked to remove all disagreement, we sometimes imagine that the Christian movement read the scriptures and agreed on everything, with disagreement and diversity coming along later, when modern Bible translations.

Did the early church agree completely on modes of baptism? On the presence of women in worship? On the the standards for communion? On the process of discipline and restoration? On the use of “non-canonical” material? On the form of church government? On detailed theories of the atonement? On the role of art? On eating meat offered to idols? On the appropriateness of marriage between believers and unbelievers? On the support of the poor? On who had apostolic authority?

Listening to some full-time Christian defenders of orthodoxy, you would think the “humilty zone” was a concept so Satanic, so diabolical, that it should be opposed at every point. Instead, it ought to be encouraged, modeled and developed.

Why can’t we have a conference where those with differing points of view on Baptism or church government present their positions, and discuss questions/objections without hearing that some “simply won’t believe what the Bible plainly teaches.?”

Why can’t Christians who homeschool, go to Christian schools and participate in public schools work together, recognizing that Christian parents can love Jesus and the Bible and come to differing conclusions?

Why can’t Christians who differ on issues of war, economics and politics discuss their approaches as all rooted in Biblical teaching, but not in a Bible that unambiguously indicates pacifism or just war?

Is it possible for Calvinists and Arminians to consider the possibility that they are both reading the same Bible, with much of the same devotion and training, but with differing interpretative approaches, leading to differing conclusions? (I think of how these teams refer to one another’s God as a “monster” or a “wimp,” and wonder at how few intelligent interpreters can acknowledge that both views grow out of the Bible.)

I am not trying to start a quarrel with the Bible, nor am I writing suggesting how we resolve ambiguity when we HAVE TO (and sometimes we must, even at great pain,) but I am suggesting that we nurture and even insist on this “humility zone.” It is not a mark of maturity to demean points of view that are rooted in the same New Testament we all believe to be God’s Word. We are going to differ on dozens of topics because, sometimes, we forget that the Bible’s perspicuity on some matters does not gurantee its clarity on others.

If you have a humility zone, some will be grateful and meet you there to talk. Others will attack you and call you apostate, liberal and “postmodern” (or whatever the new buzzword happens to be.) I think it comes down to honestly facing the Bible itself, and settling within ourselves that God has not commanded us to fight with our fellow Christians until one side or the other “wins.” We fight side by side, in divisions that sometimes differ on many things, but which agree on what matters most.

Comments

  1. I may get myself in trouble on this one, but lately I’ve been thinking that we need to extend a humility zone even to interpretation of the gospel. What I mean is this: In my particular larger tradition, Protestantism, justification by faith alone is one element at the very heart of the Gospel. Now I actually whole-heartedly believe that this is what scripture teaches and I believe that scripture is extraordinarily clear on this. But in the history of the church this has been an oft-neglected dimension of the understanding of the gospel. (I disagree, though, that it was something quasi-invented by the Reformers). It certainly wasn’t centerstage for much of church history. I would very much hope that all Christian integrate justification by faith alone into their understanding of the gospel. But what if they don’t–as many do not?

    If we can say in common that salvation and redemption are in Christ, that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through him, then maybe that can be the boundary of the humility zone around understanding the gospel.

    I think it was within the last two years or so that someone presented a paper at ETS defending the claim that CS Lewis may not have been a Christian–because of a bad understanding of the gospel. To me, that really demonstrates the need for a humility zone. Lewis might never have stated justification by faith to the satisfaction of the presenter (I don’t know whether Lewis stated this clearly or not), but if Lewis looked to and followed Christ for his salvation, then I’m not sure his having a potentially “not-Protestant-enough” understanding of the gospel should be at issue.

    Well, I’m thinking out loud here, but it’s something that I’ve been preoccupied with of late . . .

  2. Terry Hull says:

    Michael: Outstanding article. Just yesterday, Adrian Warnock posted an excellent statement from Spurgeon that communicates a similar theme. I will repeat here the comment I posted there in response to the Spurgeon quote:

    I decided years ago that I was not going to subject myself to a requirement to systematize every truth…to always “balance” each truth with every other. When I am in Galatians, I preach grace. When I am in Hebrews, I preach the exhortation that we be careful lest we fall. When I am in Romans, I preach salvation by faith. When I am in James, I preach that faith without works is dead. I am certainly not saying that there is no place for correlating or systematizing doctrine. But each truth is completely true. Each truth stands on its own. We need not apologize for any truth of God.

  3. Jeremiah Lawson says:

    The matter of war became a live issue for me in the last two years when my brother-in-law was deployed to Kuwait. He’s very for the war and I have a friend who is very against the war while I, no doubt to the great consternation of both, remain ambivalent. But when my brother-in-law needed to move my anti-war friend still helped us out as I helped my brother-in-law move. That, to me, is the Church acting as it should–seriously disagreeing on isues that aren’t expressly laid out in the creeds and Scripture but not letting that disagreement obstruct Christian charity.

  4. I have long had a problem with one particular idea that I seem to get from Baptists. Now, this started when I was a Baptist and I am not saying Baptists are bad. I have just questioned how it is possible for there to be a Christian faith that claims Catholics cannot be Christians while the Catholic Church (yes, and Orthodox and Coptic, but there are relatively few differences in doctrine as a Baptist sees it, so I am lumping them together for sake of brevity) was for 1500 years the only church. So, how many people went to Hell over those centuries because they didn’t have the Reformation to guide them in the real truth of the whole matter?

    I think that if everyone could just see things as this essay points out, we would be a lot better off. I know I disagree with a lot of y’all on certain theological points. But that’s okay because we all agree on what is most important. We all agree on the lordship of Jesus Christ. And if we could just concentrate on essentials like that instead of things that may or may not truly matter in our faith, wouldn’t we all get along better?

    -Patrick

  5. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!! Monk, you hit the nail on the head.

  6. You sound like Stanley Grenz.

  7. ….but if we all lived in the humility zone, what would we blog about? The internet would shut down and Christian bookstores would go out of business. Denominations would cease to exist and seminaries would shut their doors. What would be the point of drinking coffee?

    Humily zone…sounds like anarchy! 😎 Great article, you have not ceased to amaze me yet.

  8. When you get an epiphany, it sure is a good one.

    I’ll tell you though: A lot of the problem with the folks who come down hard on things that are ambiguous in Scripture is that there are so many people who are trained, from the time they were baby Christians, to proof-text without context. The breaking up of Scripture into verses is great for finding things in Scripture, but it was never meant to chop Scripture into sound-bites, and that is largely how I see it used — and misused. Too often I feel I have to quote whole chapters in order to prove that Scripture doesn’t mean what someone thinks it does; and too often the person will counter with another out-of-context verse and we’re back to square one.

    Ultimately the problem is that people simply don’t read their Bibles. They read a verse or two, dug out of a concordance or topical Bible or Thompson’s Chain-Reference list, and from this formulate a position, and stick to it until they die. And largely this is just another form of isogesis — they already had a position to begin with, and simply wanted to find verses that confirmed it. I suspect most of the people who believe in eternal security want to, and only quote the verses they like; and those who believe we might lose our salvation do likewise. Those who feel comforted by predestination quote different verses from those who prefer free will. And when I argue that Scripture, by its use of both ideas, suggests that God has incorporated human free will into His predestined plan for the universe, people accuse me of doctrinal novelty.

    People need to save the dissection for dead things. We have a living God and a living faith, and need to look at both holistically if we’re ever going to come close to a true picture.

  9. I agree with K.W. and with the ideas presented in this article. (As a humorous side-note, I’m sure that people will find ways to debate over which topics are really “unclear”, so there will still be lots of spirited debate to go around!)

    Anyway, back to K.W.’s comments: Proof-texting is a dangerous practice, and I’m not sure how/when that became so commonplace, but it really does create problems.

    I have long thought that issues such as predestination/free will are sort of “both/and” issues, but never heard anyone else articulate it. I’m glad to know I’m not alone!

    steve 🙂

  10. Three things: One, as everyone knows, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” I’ve found that persons who are dogmatic about particular doctrines are often trying to fill a void in their hearts with something they’ve received from a man (Gal. 1:12) when it should be filled by a more mature relationship with God Himself, which is the true context of revelation.

    Second, if you make that relationship your priority you will always have all the doctrinal understanding you need to do the will of God and be fruitful. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (2 Pet. 1:3).

    Third, I’ve found that you can sometimes avoid unnecessary friction if you deal with the fruit of particular teachings rather than picking apart the teachings themselves. For example, regardless of what eschatological position(s) you hold, there is nothing to justify complacency in the task of making and being disciples, ever. Yet some “end times” theologies obviously contribute to that. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be critical of particulars on occasion, just that a good starting point is to deal with how it affects our obedience to Christ.

  11. Mike,

    That Reformed pastor who recently made an effort to get the local Baptist church to open membership to those baptized as infants in the Reformed tradition has not been successful with his efforts. The elders of the church have announced that they have pulled the proposed amendments from the table so the congregation will not be voting on the issue. Evidently, the issue is dead and gone, at least for the foreseeable future. More information is supposed to be forthcoming on Dec 18. The indication from the elders is that the issue became much too divisive within the church. The elders, evidently, did not anticipate the depth, breadth, or intensity of opposition both from within and without the church.

  12. Good post Michael. I once heard Dallas Willard speak at a conference. He opened the floor to questions and an elderly Latino gentlemen gave his view on a particular scripture in Jeremiah and asked Dr. Willard if he agreed. Dr. Willard answered, “Rather than presume to correct you, let me give you my interpretation of that passage.” He then humbly gave his interpretation. The Latino gentlemen walked away edified rather than defeated — all by Dr. Willard ministering in “the humility zone”.

  13. Another thought. You make an excellent point in this article that has taken me a while to figure out: namely, we don’t have to figure everything out. All we need to agree on is the essential Gospel. As the saying that has been attributed to nearly everyone says: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

    This is a motto embraced by the Restorationist Movement, of which I’m a part. However, I’ve found that this really solves nothing, since there is no agreement on what is essential, and what is nonessential. For example, our movement has split over the use of instruments in worship and whether to have a centralized mission organization or not. Hardly Gospel issues, right? And yet, they were ‘essential’ enough to some people to break fellowship with others.

    Sigh. If only we could all get together and get a list of what would be essential and what is not. Maybe that could be a future article, Mike: your list of what you absolutely HAVE to believe to be an orthodox Christian (small o). I wonder how long a list it would be.

    But I can already hear the arguments. Is it necessary to believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and by that I mean the only way to gain eternal life? I would say that this would be an essential doctrine, but I know many new kinds of Christian would disagree or dismantle the idea that Jesus is the ONLY way with semantics.

    So, essentially, we can’t even come up with the essentials.

    Fear not, argument is not dead. But, perhaps an embracing of your humiliy zone will keep us from having the circular, pointless arguments with those on the other side of ambiguous debates like predestination, eternal security, eschatology, and so on. God willing!

  14. It occurs to me lately that the ambiguity in the scriptures is intentional. We’re supposed to have to work out these things through prayer and study, rather than having them handed to us. How we resolve these questions and how we treat people with different opinions may in the end matter more than the specific viewpoint we held. At the risk of annoying people by quoting Rick Warren, God cares more about “why” than “what”.

  15. I’m becoming convinced that the sometime ambiguity in the scriptures is intended. We’re supposed to have to work out these things through prayer and study, rather than having them handed to us. How we resolve these questions and how we treat people with different opinions may in the end matter more than the specific viewpoint we held. At the risk of annoying people by quoting Rick Warren, God cares more about “why” than “what”.

  16. Inspired by the Imonk’s essay on The Humility Zone, I blogged the following:

    What would you do if you came across a person who was in the process of sawing off one of their fingers? Or maybe one of their ears Would you try to stop them?

    Many times I feel that this is what some members of universal church of Jesus Christ attempts to do. Although all those who have placed their faith in Christ become part of His body, of which He is the head, some members of this body spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to chop off other members. They take minor or ambiguous doctrinal issues, and bump them up into the category of “primary” or, to use modern day language, “deal-breakers”.

    This doesn’t mean that proper doctrine is not important. That’s usually the complaint you get from the “body choppers”. Because you won’t fight tooth and nail with your brother or sister in Christ about secondary issues, you must be soft on doctrine. That’s becoming a tiring chorus.

    This issue is not new. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, concerned about their attitudes towards one another as believers. It seems obvious that the Corinthian Christians had come to the place where they felt that they could disclude other believers. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:12-26:

    12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
    13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
    14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
    15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
    16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
    17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
    18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
    19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
    20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
    21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
    22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
    23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
    24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
    25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
    26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

    The Bible tells us that a house divided cannot stand. If the church of Jesus Christ is divided, it will not be the light or salt of the world. Instead it will become like a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal.

  17. mort_chien says:

    Well maybe now I know what has been going on in my life a little better – at least I’m not alone. My wife and I have been attending a PCA church for 6 months and I’ve been trying to do some serious and honest re-evaluation of the paedo-credo thing having been baptistic since our conversion 32 years ago. I’ve looked at the Scripture, the early church fathers, Schaff’s history, literature on Jewish prostylite baptism and guess what? I find no absolutely clear descisive clincher-type arguments for one or the other. My Baptist friends (some of them) are concerned, but much to my surprise (shows how ignorant I am) the paedos have some very good points. I can no longer dismiss them as misguided, or ignorant, or semi roman catholic.

    A couple of years ago I did the same thing with the pre-mil, a-mil, post-mil positions. Ooo! If you try this, don’t tell your Dispensational buddies in the pew next to you about it. You may get your head bit off if you admit, as I did, that the a-mils are neither fools nor deceivers and that they have some superb scholarship behind their position. You will get your head bit off if you question the whole idea behind Left Behind.

    It is amazing how narrow I (we?) can be. A good rule seems to be that if you cannot explain the other guy’s position in sufficient detail, almost to the point of being able to advocate for it, you had better back off and do your homework. A lot of folks who are more godly and smarter than I have taken different views on these and other subjects.

    Resolved: Except under the most eggregious abuses (think Titus 1:10-11 and 2 Tim 2:14-18), I will try to assure that when a man or woman disagrees with me and goes away after a discussion, that they know that I do not think they are stupid or a liar.

    Mort Chien

  18. Jeremiah Lawson says:

    Mort, at my church a friend of mine had to explain to a couple other church members that, no, I was not a heretic for being an amillenial partial preterist. 🙂 Incidentally, this friend is paedo on baptism and I’m not but we understand there are more important things to agree on than baptism.

  19. Great article Michael! What are you thoughts of Brian McLaren’s “Generous Orthodoxy”?

  20. Excellent stuff. thank you

  21. Top post. We’ve been doing this in the UK for years. In the body I work for we’ve had this principle for at least 75 years.

    We hold strongly to a core of evangelical convictions about the gospel and bible – http://www.uccf.org.uk/resources/general/doctrinalbasis/doctrinalbasis.php

    and happily accept that we see differently on womens ministry, spiritual gifts, baptism, sovereignty etc.

    Humility is the key to it working.

  22. Very good post.

    I posted on one BLOG a link to the lcms differences with the calvinstic TULIP model. The lcms terminology is well thought out and well written. The LCMS is reformed but not necessarily 5 pointers and my point was just to make the BLOGGERS re-think about how absolute they were in their own thinkology by just pointing to a FAQ on the LCMS web-site.

    It did not go over too well on that BLOG.

    Here are the two links I posted.
    http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2241
    http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2242

    and I actually belong to a CRC Church. If there was a 6th point of calvinism the CRC would follow it.

    Dave said,

    I’ve found that persons who are dogmatic about particular doctrines are often trying to fill a void in their hearts with something they’ve received from man.

    Well said Dave. We should not use the rightness of our beliefs as a way of looking down on others. In Christ only do we gain our rightness.

    Jon

  23. A wonderful exposition of the Holy Spirit on the Net. Thank you all for being open to Grace and making us more the Body of Christ.

    I especially agree with Terry Hull. There are many truths presented in the Bible, and when they seemingly conflict, we cannot minimize one of them. We believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in justification by faith, but faith isn’t as great as love. We are given salvation as a free gift, but we are carrying this Cross and have given our lives to Christ. We now have access to the gifts of wisdom, but are fools for Christ.

  24. It occurs to me lately that the ambiguity in the scriptures is intentional. We’re supposed to have to work out these things through prayer and study, rather than having them handed to us. –BobD

    If you HAVE to have your Scriptures completely unambiguous, with everything spelled out in exact detail and handed to you, what are you doing following Christ instead of Mohammed?