What Your Black and White World Needs is the Light of Profound Truth

Does the Bible Present Correct Ideas or Profound Truth?

A few weeks ago, I sat in the room listening to a 94-year-old man argue with an 83-year-old man about faith and baptism. Mr. 94 was a faith alone guy. Mr. 83 believed that baptism was part of the salvation process. Mr. 94 jabbed with “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16.31). Mr. 83 counter-punched with, “I’ve got one verse for you. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16.16). Mr. 94 gave an upper cut, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2.8). Mr. 83 deflected the blow with, “What about the Ethiopian eunuch?” I wanted to ring the bell and tell them to go back to their corners and give it a rest. Fortunately, there were no hard feelings, just “correct” ideas that were more entrenched than ever.

When I talk with people about their frustrations with Christianity and the church as they know it, they often bring up the problem of confusing messages. One group teaches that God predestines people to heaven or hell. Another group teaches that God loves people so much that he couldn’t damn people to hell. Is it more biblical to believe that speaking in tongues happens today or more biblical to believe that speaking in tongues stopped when the Bible was completed? Should I have my infant baptized, or wait until she decides for herself or wait until she is confirmed?

And the really confusing part is that all these groups claim to be basing their beliefs on the same Bible. Huh? How can that be?

So what are you supposed to do?

  • You can agree to disagree. This is a cop-out. You’re correct, but I’m more correct.
  • You can be dogmatic about your own theology and interpretation of the Bible and view everyone else as wrong and in need of your instruction. This is the stuff of judgmentalism, pride, and ignorance. “Speaking the truth in love” finds little room to grow here.
  • You can be fully convinced of a way of understanding theology and the Bible while at the same time, view others as on a journey to truth. This is getting closer to a good solution.
  • You can forget about making the call about others and devote your life to seeking out a good theology and understanding of scripture. This is getting at the core of the journey. You and I think we know what truth is. The reality is that we’re far from it. We need to focus on finding it and living it for ourselves while encouraging others to do the same. We’re pilgrims on a journey not mountain climbers who have reached the peak.

Jesus spoke like this: “Lose your life and you will find it.” “The first will be last and the last will be first.” Jesus Christ, fully God yet fully man, was comfortable with paradox – “a statement that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.”

Can we approach our quest for good theology and Bible understanding with love and grace? Be careful with your personal dogma. Take to heart what Neils Bohr, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist says:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.

The Bible is profound truth. Let’s not treat it as if it merely contains correct ideas. Correctness is of our own making. Truth comes from God.

Share your thoughts below. 

Dr. K 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “What Your Black and White World Needs is the Light of Profound Truth

  1. I can remember growing up in the 60’s and being nauseated when I would hear my Catholic friends say that their priest told them “don’t read the Bible, it’s too hard to understand”. That drove me nuts. Twenty years later, I painfully had to admit that these priests may have had a point. If it were so easy to understand, why do we have the tens of thousands of groups who claim to know the Bible but can’t agree on what it is saying? It leads one to conclude that there is no such thing as absolute truth, just opinions.

    The Bible can’t be the problem. I’ve become convinced that the problem is me. It has to be me. For the past twenty years of my life I have dedicated myself to considering older writings. When I say old, I’m not talking 30 to 50 years old, I’m talking really old! What did the early Christians think about these issues. Baptism, Faith alone, predestination, gifts of the spirit….all our current hot buttons? I now really try to include these early writers in my viewpoints. As a result some of my theologies have shifted!

    At times people will say….”let’s just major on the majors”. I know someone who regularly says “that’s cool, can I be the one who decides what the majors are”! So even in that, I will now go to the early Christians to help me decide what is a major and what is not. I will say that I found out that their list was longer than mine!!

    • Hey Bruce. Thanks for your insights. You’re right! The Bible is absolute truth but our understanding of it certainly is not! Thanks for your encouragement to read the ancients. I’ve set as a new year’s goal to read two ancient writers this year, Athanasius being one of them. The “majors” of the Nicene creed are richer and deeper than anything we can imagine. Thanks be to God for all things! Keith

  2. Beautifully said! Thank you, Keith! Draw close to God and He draws close to us… I find relationship with my Abba trumps my relationship to my theology. Walking in His presence while journeying on my theological road humbles and mystifies me. To Him be glory. Cross pollinating with other points of view, contrary to my upbringing, has brought me closer to the Father.

    • Thanks for sharing, Tamara. And thanks be to God for the journey you are on with Him. It is indeed unfortunate that with so many, theological systems trump relationship. Focus on your relationship with God – to know Him – and all will be well. Of course, it doesn’t have to be either/or. Dr. K

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