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Fights about doctrine

Started by AudioArtist, November 28, 2011, 08:54:58 pm

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November 28, 2011, 08:54:58 pm Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 11:31:18 pm by AudioArtist
I was thinking this recently in relation to the...'disagreements'...that occur in the Body of Christ. One key part to all of this is the vagueness of words. In language, there are so many "borderline cases" that make it impossible to say whether a predicate is false or true. Classic examples are "is tall" or "is bald", where it can't be said that some borderline case is tall or not-tall. I would not go as far as the philosopher, Wittgenstein, who stated that much of philosophy attempts to say the unsayable, and that all statements about religion, ethics, aesthetics, and the mystical are nonsensical, even if those things in themselves are not. Language is incredibly important - it is one of the clearest ways God speaks to us, and Jesus declared that His words would remain forever. I'm using language right now. But I do think we can underplay the limits of language (especially in light of the fact it is God we are speaking about) and overemphasise the need to "understand" things of the faith (and I would disagree with how many interpret the word "understand".)

I'm not sure if everyone does this, but I think in words in my mind. I can't grasp Christianity very well with my mind, but I know the Spirit within understands it. Some of Jesus' and the prophets' words offend and confuse my mind, but thankfully the Spirit resonates to them within me. Some of the prophetic actions I see in scripture shock my tastes, and many scriptural truths occur in riddles - riddles that at first seem to contradict the meanings intended for the believer to grasp! But we Christians are often caught up in Form over Function and are so quick to disagree with others over how they formulate doctrine. This is despite the fact that none of our minds really understand the Christian things we say, and we can't perfectly say the things we understand by the Spirit. Our creeds and our words on Earth only capture a fraction of God's glorious truths as they actually happening now in Heaven, Earth and Hell. And I feel that is a relief. Wouldn't it be dull if we arrived in Heaven to discover that the realities of these doctrines are exactly like we thought they would be on Earth!

Moving beyond language itself and onto understanding and doctrine more generally - we all believe and say that it is faith in Jesus' death and resurrection; faith in His blood poured out for us and His body broken for us - that saves. But how exactly does Jesus' blood save sinners? What exactly happened on that day of atonement, and by what processes can sinners become saints in connection with that day? We can say some good truths about how the cross works, but nobody on Earth has ever fully grasped the mechanics of it, nor described exactly what went on in the Heavenlies when the Son became sin. How exactly is one 'born again'? Can we transcribe the mechanics of this relationship in the way a scientist can take us through the processes of the human body? We struggle to answer basic questions about what has happened to us, but He works in us nonetheless, including or especially those of us least able to explain anything complicated about the universe.

Our understanding of spiritual things - when based in reason and linguistic forms - is not ever nearly as complete or correct as we can think it is. I am not saying that the ability to write on theological issues beautifully is worthless, but I am saying that if we feel like like we have "arrived" on any issue because of that ability, we are deceiving ourselves. And I am thankful that God is rescuing me from that mindset. Yes, some doctrines are false and are very destructive, but many disagreements involve two positions that are probably both true in some way. God is big enough and language limited enough that many more "opposing" things could be said about Him and His methods and still not be incompatible! Language only shapes reality if that reality doesn't actually exist, but thankfully God isn't a metaphysical construct: He actually exists. Our basic truths are paradoxical and are foolishness to the human mind. The Christian has no reason to be proud of his own formulations of Christians beliefs, nor the formulations he agrees with from famous theologians or respectable theological schools of thought. I'm talking only about pride here, not the worth of those theological truths themselves. And all pride is dangerous, but that kind of pride is especially absurd and can easily go unnoticed. The person who shows a bit of pride because he raised the dead through the power of Jesus would be shot down quickly and ruthlessly (if he were even believed), but a blind eye can easily be turned to the pride I am speaking about! We believe we are saved because of the blood a Nazarene carpenter who was nailed to a cross over 2000 years ago; clearly, God's methods aren't as they are so that we can be proud of our own understanding and so that Christians can argue with Christians. His methods are so wonderfully freeing and so powerful in promoting humility and servant-heartedness in all who are open.

In childlike faith, in childlike obedience, and especially in the manifest glory and Spirit of God, I believe we can truly become one, just as Jesus prayed we would before He died. :-)


Excellent post!

Right now, we see through a glass dimly.  Not a single one of us has all the answers or has it all figured out.  We need each other to grow in the things of God.  You have Truths that I don't, and I have Truths that you don't.  If we'd all stop trying to one up one another and actually listen to each other, perhaps we could learn from each other and grow together in our understanding of God and His ways.

It sounds like you're coming to the same conclusion I have been coming to lately.  It's one of the reasons I enjoy discussing things like this, because even when I disagree with someone's conclusions, I have purposed in my heart to learn something from them.  A few months ago, our pastor said, "Everyone has something from God for you."  When you begin to see things like that, like each person has a piece of the puzzle that we all struggle to understand and comprehend, you view people differently.  It's no longer about trying to win an argument or proving someone wrong, but rather valuing what God has placed in that person for the benefit of the body of Christ.

"There is no charge for awesomeness -- or attractiveness."


Here's an excellent book on the Atonement, I recommend it to understand the questions you asked in your post.  This is one of the most comprehensive and complete books available.  I hope you will consider it.

Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  (Romans 8:7, KJV)


Keith Moore has a sermon series called "Truth or Tradition"; in this series he challenges the listener to evaluate if what they believe about God is based in scriptures; not half a verse taken out of context - but plainly rooted in at least two scriptures that harmonize with all other scripture.  he urges that when we hear a Christian state a belief, we always ask the question 'what scriptures do you stand on for that belief?'

this will quickly discount many things that most Christians believe today.  for example, have you ever heard a Christian say 'God doesn't put any more on you than you can take'?  there's no scripture for that; it's actually a perversion of 1Cor 10:13.

the point i'm trying to make is that there would be much less debate if scriptures (more than one) were required to support a doctrine; much if not most debate in the body of Christ is due to ignorance of His word - and I've been in that group, and almost certainly believe something right now that's not supported by scripture - i haven't arrived, but i'm striving to leave where i am at any given point in time. 

so why debate with someone in a forum who does not have scriptures to stand on?  for the benefit of all those silent readers of our posts, who have not yet adopted a belief not grounded in scripture

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.


I debate here because it is great fellowship, and an excellent way to expand my understanding of scripture.  A few of us have continued in dead arguments just to see where the others would go, to learn each other better, and it was well understood that we were all doing exactly that.  It was fun.   

There will be people in Hell with perfect theologies within their sects.  There will be no one in Hell with a perfect relationship with God, even if they are dead wrong on every point of doctrine. 
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.


Quote from: jiminpa on November 29, 2011, 11:10:09 pm
There will be people in Hell with perfect theologies within their sects.  There will be no one in Hell with a perfect relationship with God, even if they are dead wrong on every point of doctrine.

well said - it's all about relationship with Him!

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.


Quote from: DiscipleHeLovesToo on November 30, 2011, 06:02:13 am

well said - it's all about relationship with Him!


The scripture you have (John 17:3) reveals the heart of God and purpose of our creation.


Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.