Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tearing Down Fortresses

I recently had a (very) brief conversation with a guy about whether or not a person, once saved, could lose his or her salvation. (As it turns out, you need to be very careful about how you word that.) Since it was not my aim to correct any fallacies he may or may not have had on the subject, there was no debate or disagreement. He was actually talking about how his former church friends (from a Nazarene church) were asking how he could attend a "once saved, always saved" church (a Baptist church).

It got me to thinking. There are subjects -- and I seem to have quite a few under my belt -- that seem to engender a lot of heat. I'm talking about in Christendom. Sure, we have the old adage that we're not supposed to talk about sex, politics, or religion if we're going to get along, but among Christians we should be able to talk religion, shouldn't we? Yet, if an "eternal security" type suggests to a "conditional security" type that the Bible teaches that God maintains all believers until the end, you're likely to see a shooting war. Mind you, it works the same in reverse -- I'm not just pointing at one. The same is true with the Doctrines of Grace offered to a so-called Arminian or an amillenial eschatology offered to a Dispensational premillenialist (don't worry if you don't understand the terms -- they're "end times" views). They don't sit down and say, "Well, interesting ... so, what are your biblical reasons for such a view and how do we get Scripture to agree with Scripture?" No, more likely they'll get written up on a "biblical discernment" blog or some such and classified as a heretic ... from both sides.

It is not my point here to point out which side of these questions is right and which is (obviously) heretical hogwash from Hell. My point is that I would love to have pleasant conversations, even in disagreement, with people about these things. You know, "iron sharpens iron." (Prov 27:17) That kind of thing. On this blog I write what I believe to be true. I give the Scriptures, offer explanations, trace the logic, offer the facts, all to explain what I believe is true. But I don't want people to say, "Well, Stan said it, so it's true." (And I'm fairly certain that no one does. They do, however, with other teachers.) What I'm hoping for is not so much persuasion, but examination. "Hmm," I'd love to hear, "never thought of it that way. Let's see if Scripture lines up with that."

Here's what I'd really love to see. I'd love to see Christians who have the courage of one conviction -- that God is always true, and the Bible is the reliable Word of God. (Okay, maybe that's two.) If you have that conviction, the courage would come into play when you find yourself faced with things -- people, ideas, your own prior convictions, whatever -- that contradict what you're reading in God's Word and you choose to realign your own views with God's rather than the people, ideas, or prior convictions you hold. I would love to see Christians who choose to stand on what God says rather than 1) molding what God says to match where they stand or 2) discarding what God says to stay in place. It is truly amazing to me how many Christians I see doing just that. "That can't mean what you say it means because this verse says otherwise." Okay ... but now you've just discarded the Scripture in question for your own pet verse.

I'd love to see Christians teaching each other the truth (Eph 4:15), seeking to mature (Eph 4:12) and establish (2 Thess 2:17) each other "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:13) Instead, we establish fortresses built to defend against each other. I know I benefit from discussions, even with people who disagree with me, far more than from battles. I would pray that we could learn to practice the humility of Christ in order to be of the same mind (Phil 2:1-8).


Bob said...

i would like to see a discussion on the subject of the implicit vs the explicit.
this is because a lot of christian thinking comes from the implicit. where as doctrine should come from the explicit teachings. exp. if God commands, then it implies that we are able to respond by means of our frewill. but what does the bible say explicitly about our ability to respond.

Stan said...

What are you implying? (Little joke there.)

I agree that many derive their conclusions from the implicit when the explicit denies it. I wish it was that easy. I know of one such viewpoint that would argue that you and I are doing exactly that -- denying the explicit for the implicit -- because we are no being Torah observant, and isn't it explicit in Scripture that "not one jot or tittle will pass away", that Jesus came to uphold rather than remove the Law, that "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut 4:2)? Now we have to go through the explicit to find whether or not it is that explicit, to align the explicit with the explicit.