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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Chicken or the Egg?

Some time ago there was a popular bumper sticker going around. It read, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Good, solid, Bible-believing bumper sticker. All well and good. Unless, of course, you think it through. This sticker begs the question.

Take a look at it for a moment. The conclusion is that something is settled. The question is what settles it? The statement suggests two things are required to settle it -- God said it and I believe it. Do you see the problem? This has placed "I believe it" on equal footing with "God said it." It is possible that "God said it" and "I don't believe it" and it would not then be settled.

Now, of course, it's just a bumper sticker. Not really a doctrinal statement. We can let it go. But we must not let go of the base issue. Is "God said it" sufficient to settle it? Which comes first, "God said it" or "I believe it"? Is my belief required for something to be settled? Sure, it may require my belief for it to be settled for me, but we need to acknowledge that "I believe it" is not required for "it" to be settled. That is, it is settled and what is necessary now is for me to believe it.

It's only an illustration of the basic problem today. We hold God's Word up for examination. "You know," our world tells us, "those Christians who believe that it's a sin to have sex outside of marriage are out of step and wrong." "But," a Christian might answer, "if I am to follow Christ, I have to follow His Word, so I have to go along with that." "No, no," they assure us. "Clearly that part is wrong and needs to be discarded/amended." And we do. To our own peril. Because if God said it, it is settled. And yet there are too many -- including self-professed Christians -- who determine what is or isn't true by "what I believe" rather than by "what God said."

Yes, it's only a sticker. And, in fact, I don't see it much anymore. So the sticker problem is nearly gone. The idea remains. If we were to be rational Christians convinced that God is true though every man a liar, then we would need to hold a different position: "God said it, that settles it, I believe it." For the rest of the world, whether they are unbelievers or self-styled believers, snatching up the right to evaluate God's truth and determine where the Word is wrong based on their own personal preferences is an arrogance we should all be wary of.


Marshall Art said...

"God said it, therefore I believe it, and thus, as far as I'm concerned it is settled." I don't think it's any deeper than that.

As to what makes anything settled, I'd have to say that the notion is always a matter of perspective of fact, not the fact itself. That is, while fire burns is always true, it's not a settled issue if there is any argument about the fact.

In this case, the "fact" is whatever it is that God is claimed to have said. That God said it is, to the speaker, evidence for the truth of the claim. That evidence, that God said it, is enough to settle the issue in the mind of the speaker and in the opinion of the speaker, should be enough to settle the matter for anyone save for the fact that not everyone believes that God exists. And of course for those people, that God said it doesn't in and of itself settle the matter at all.

Stan said...

I'd approach it from a different perspective. Or maybe it's the same that you gave but I didn't understand. There IS fact, truth, objective reality. That reality is determined by God. God's Word offers some of that reality. (That is, God's Word is true; there is truth beyond God's Word.) To the extent, then, that what I believe aligns with that reality, it is settled and accurate. Where my thinking deviates from that reality I am unsettled and inaccurate. Bottom line, the problem of perspective and opinion is mine, not with God or His Word. He needs no affirmation from me to be true. The aim, in that case, would be for me to embrace and cling to that which is in accord with God and His Word and realign that in me that is not.