And I’m not talking about being combative or contrarian for the sake of being different. But if you do know how to think, you’ll certainly be an unusual person in your circle of influence.
It’s unlikely I’ll be able to address what I want to say in one post. But, for now, let’s see just how far we can go down this rabbit hole. Don’t worry, I promise to bring you back out…eventually. Come along now… 🙂
Would you like a little Bible with your commentary?
We see this “how vs. what” thinking on controversial topics in the body of Christ–like current grace debate, are the gifts of the Spirit for today, is it God’s will that all be healed, etc. What we tend to do is find out what everyone else thinks–what our church thinks, what our pastor thinks, what our friends think, what our study Bible thinks, what the Internet thinks, how it all lines up with what we were taught in Sunday school, Bible college or seminary–everything and everyone, it seems, except…what God thinks.
Why? Because we can’t even imagine being able to know what God thinks!
It’s systemic in nature because we weren’t taught how to think about things. We were taught what to think about them. Instead of knowing something, or someone, we’ve been taught to answer questions.
But more than that, we (in the West) were taught to trust in logic and reason to find out if something is true. But did we really find the truth?
Here’s my question…if logic and reason will get us to the truth, how do we find out something outside of ourselves–especially, God?
With this “logic,” if you will, we end up making God in our own image.
To say it another way, it’s like Hamlet trying to figure out Shakespeare (thank you, C.S. Lewis!). There’s an infinite gulf fixed between us. We don’t have a mental grid for what we cannot possibly imagine. I wrote about this in more detail here….
So, how do we traverse this gulf between our finite mind and an infinite God using our inadequate tools of logic and reason for knowing things? I will keep you in suspense on that point for now… 🙂
Let’s go down this rabbit hole further, shall we?
Fear vs. Love
The motive behind what we hold to be true in church tends to be driven by fear instead of love. How this shows up is in our fear of disagreement or false doctrine. We’re afraid of being wrong more than finding truth.
Cults are an extreme example of this fear containment. But even in the most orthodox Christian settings, we’re warned against dissenting views. After all, we haven’t been taught how to think so there’s a danger we will be mislead like dumb sheep.
The end result is, our proverbial ostrich head is firmly stuck in the sand. We dare not challenge the sacred deeply entrenched beliefs. So our faith remains superficial, on the safe shoreline with God, never walking out on the water where there may be wind and waves, but also where the deepest truest life lays hidden.
The opposite reaction due to fear is that we wholesale reject the “faith of our fathers” and follow the current popular dissent. Why? Because it’s popular and makes us feel like we have something significant to say. Of course, we applaud ourselves for not following the crowd. But we’re just following another crowd. We’re still not knowing how to think.
So we have many young people exiting the “Christian faith” today. But, as I asked before, are they really leaving Jesus or just our current tightly-held version of religion? Maybe they haven’t even heard the good news yet. I really think that our Western paradigm about Christianity has failed us here. And it’s good that it failed us if it will lead us to find the truth that actually makes us free. 🙂
But when love is the anchor to what we believe, fear goes away. We can embrace those with different views than us without the fear of “being wrong.” After all, even knowledge will cease, but love never fails (1 Cor.13:8-13). More on that another time.
Okay, I will tease you with one more thing here.
Will our hermeneutics save us?
Now, we may know how to think but will our “method of knowing” get us to the truth? You see, the problem with our Western glasses is that we think we can see the truth through correct interpretation or hermeneutic disciplines.
But this is fallacious because no one can see with total objectivity so no one has an absolutely flawless interpretation of Scripture. We all have assumptions that we bring into our interpretation.
To use my analogy, Hamlet’s interpretation is forged through his scripting.
And if this naked reality makes us nervous, it shows we’re still more driven by fear than love. The truth is, we ALL view Scripture through a biased lens.
But the rabbit hole goes deeper…We have dozens of translations that often don’t agree with each other in many places. Let me say at this point, the original manuscripts in the original language are the inerrant and inspired word of God. But the many paraphrased and translated copies aren’t (yes, including the beloved King James Version). They have discrepancies and even errors in translation. And this is also mostly due to preconceived bias, political wranglings, or just plain old limited revelation.
And the inspired Word of God read by an uninspired mind is still just words. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Therefore, it’s naïve, even the height of arrogance, to think you have a 100% correct view of Scripture that doesn’t need improvement. It creates a very subtle “I have arrived” mentality.
We can’t imagine God being anything other than what we can imagine. Then we become divisive by saying absurd things like we’re defending the truth. Really?
As I’ve said before, the Word of God never changes but our understanding of it definitely should. But even if we admit the obvious, it creates a challenge for us. Especially, when talking to non-believers and those antagonistic to the Bible. Again, this is where our Western thinking has failed us.
Learning how to think like Jesus is the very essence of discipleship (Eph.4:13), not learning what we should think about Jesus! There’s a big difference.
Okay, this post is getting long. Hopefully, I’ve left you with more questions than answers. But I do promise to continue and work us back out of this theological rabbit hole. 🙂