Hello! Happy New Year! It is good to be back behind the keyboard after my month long blogging sabbatical. I would like to thank the women who filled in for me while I was taking a break from writing, I know you enjoyed their posts and benefited from their wisdom. Several of them will be returning in the Tuesday/Thursday guest blogger spots going forward.
This past December marked 28 years of Christianity for me. In that time I have attended several churches and been exposed to at least 3 different kinds of teaching, all of which were "the only right position to hold" on Christianity. I don't think that is unique to me, I suspect many of you have the same kind of background.
I have been in the Reformed camp for a number of years now, and I plan to make that my home. I subscribe to several different blog feeds for my own enrichment and growth on theological issues. After reading excellent material by the bloggers, I peruse the comments and invariably I see numerous testy exchanges between people, all who proclaim they are right on various topics. I think they often forget that the crux of Ephesians 4 is unity in the Body of Christ.
Those of you who know me personally know that I like a good theological debate. I think robust discussion is healthy and good to sharpen and equip us. However, it crosses the line when discussion becomes mud slinging and condemnation of divergent points of view. I am not talking about heresy, that must be confronted. I am talking about brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot respectfully disagree or even tolerate biblical conclusions that differ from their own.
Here are some things I have to consider when I think of how I discuss theological viewpoints, maybe these will help you too.
- What I believe and understand today is very different from what I believed and understood 10 years ago. I slightly cringe when I think of the dogmatic lines in the sand I drew on Escatological issues. Today my thinking is changing and all those things I was immovable on are now up for discussion and even friendly debate. I want to learn the truth.
- Perhaps the other person has not been a Christian as long as you or I have. They may not have the wealth of teaching or education you or I have either. If they are poorly taught you can't fault them. Be a gentle, educating voice in their world instead of a blasting horn of knowledge. It really is true, they have to know you care before they will care to know what you have to say.
- Paul told young Timothy to set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). I doubt if we are excluded from this command. He also said, Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (4:16). Can you say you are presently a positive example in speech and conduct? Do you watch your activities and actions carefully? Interesting that these come before watching your doctrine closely.... I think a person can be the best theologian on the planet, but if their life doesn't reveal what their mouth proclaims it is all worthless.
Think about these things, and examine your life in light of what I've written today. I have had to do this as I continue to learn, grow, and change. The Bible's truths are inexhaustible and none of us will ever totally mine it's depths. We won't ever arrive in this life, it won't be until we are in glory that we have full understanding.
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Col. 4:6