Thursday, December 15, 2005

Scripture, doctrine, uncertainty, and humility

I don't know where Michael Spencer finds time to write his long, sharp-minded posts, but he's recently put into words an idea that's been working its way, poorly phrased, through my mind for quite some time. In short, Michael explains how Christians of good faith and sound mind can come to different doctrinal conclusions on some issues:
Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t give you enough evidence, one way or the other, to settle a question beyond the possibility of a continuing discussion and debate. If this is true, and if the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit does not remove this ambiguity, then there are points beyond which dicsussion and debate ought to proceed only with considerable and generous amounts of respectful humility.
Michael goes on to discuss how, years ago, he and his fellow seminarians never entertained the notion that some issues might better be approached with humility than certainty:
It never occured to us . . . that maybe, just maybe, the Bible wasn’t unambiguous on this topic. [It] never occured to us that we could put all the pieces on the table, arrange them in different ways, and come to different conclusions ALL DAY/YEAR LONG. It never occured to us to conclude that this wasn’t a question like “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” It was a question like, “What will heaven be like?”

Why did this never occur to us? Because, in our respective communities, we were constantly assured that the Bible was unambiguous on EVERYTHING. It was absolutely clear on all issues, which is why we all knew we were right all the time.
While the Bible's teaching is clear on the gospel, many issues are not nearly so clear. Thus the value of humility--and love (HT: Adrian Warnock).


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