i have been asked to post on my practice of exposing this board to beliefs or lines of thinking that i myself do not hold to.
this thread is meant to be an answer to that request.
in the interest of keeping it clear for those who won’t read more than a few sentences, i’ll make my main point up top, and flesh it out below:
the verses i have in mind, mostly are:
“…test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 thes 5)
“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”. (1 peter 3)
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the futureâ€”all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 cor 3)
my main point is this: all that is truth is god’s truth, and we are instructed in scripture to seek it out and claim it as our own.
all too often, christians take an anti-intellectual attitude. we tend to discourage critical , questioning, or creative thinking. we do this, i think, in a misguided attempt at “guarding the truth” — but the end result is that the truth is actually supressed, or more likely, never actually encountered.
many of us who grew up in christian homes, and almost all of us who grew up in western society, have heard some version of the gospel all our lives. it is impossible to get through life without encountering a version or other of it. the problem with this is that fimiliarity breeds contempt: as people have become accustomed to what they have heard is “the gospel”, and rejected or accepted that gospel, they then go through their lives thinking they have done just that: accepted or rejected the gospel.
in fact, i submit that they have done no such thing.
as paul makes clear, if it is not the actual gospel, it is really no gospel at all.
and the pop-culture version of the gospel is not the actual gospel that jesus preached.
i’ll make that point again, because i believe it is vitally important: the story that most people in western culture have accepted or rejected is not the gospel, but something else — something crippled and distorted.
i am not questioning the “salvation” of millions of people who hold some christian faith now or in times past (romans makes clear that god judges all people based on what they know and what they do with what they know — i believe we can trust the father in heaven to do the right thing with each and every human soul). rather, i am talking about something else: living life with jesus as mentor, for the good of those around us and to the glory of the father.
jesus asked no less than for people to abandon all they held dear, turn their lives in a new direction, and pursue love and justice.
thousands crowded around him because he taught with an authority they had never encountered on a subject they had heard all their lives: the message of god’s love.
the message he preached was that the kingdom of god was available in a way it never had been before, and that anyone and everyone would do so may enter into it.
some rejoiced at this, some balked.
a few turned very bitter, and eventually killed him for it — because his message was threatening the status quo, where they were comfortabely in power.
but he proved that he was who he claimed to be — the perfect revelation of the father — by not staying dead, and he turned the world on its ear by sending his students out to teach others what they had learned about how to live life: by loving people.
as a couple of generations passed, and it became clear that the story of this incredible news should be preserved in writing, some of these students set out to do just hat — and others set out to write to the groups of people who had started meeting together to encourage each other in this new faith.
a few of those letters of encouragement were saved, and eventually gathered together as part of the scripture.
the three verses i qutoed above are from some of those letters.
in it, we have clues from some of the earliest believes — some of jesus’ first stuents — about how to live this life he instructed us in living.
so little of jesus message had to do with holding to this or that theory about theology, or subscribing to any one system of belief.
rather, jesus message was about doing. about loving your neighbor, and about taking care of the poor, and about taking care of the single most important thing god ever created: the people around you.
and all of the letters to the early churches were geared towards encouraging people to that effort, and against allowing the ideas of the culture to invade and infect that pure message.
they were encouraged to try out the ideas that came along, and compare them to what they knew to be true, and to allow the spirit of the one true god to help them discern.
they were instructed to be thinkers: to be ready to give answers about this faith to questioners.
they were reminded that even when they think they know that they still don’t know what god knows.
in light of all of this, as society changes it is still our duty as people who are trying to be students of jesus the christ to test all things.
to truly think through issues and not simply cling to the thinking we have always held, but to constantly evaluate our heads and our hearts and the ideas we find around us so that we can grow in our faith.
i post ideas that some may dissagree with (and i may disagree with) to further this effort.
i believe that we as christians must think critically about the ideas that the world around us holds, so that we may meet those ideas head on: embracing what is true, rejecting what is false, and always doing so with the help of the spirit of god.
i believe that too few of us bother doing that, because we have grown up in a culture that discourages it, and that it is one of my duties to encourage right behaviour.
some of the ideas i present are not in line with scripture. some are.
we who are jesus’ disciples are under instruction to test them all, and to cling to those that are.
ignoring these ideas won’t make them go away, though. the world around us, the one we are called to be in, holds these ideas, and if we are to be the salt and light in this world, we are obligated to reach them in a gentle, understanding way.
i believe that by thinking through tough issues, and by evaluating more sides that we might be comfortable with, we can grow as a body of beleivers — we can gain a higher understanding of the truth.
i trust the holy spirit in the believer’s life to help them discern that which is false from that which is true.
it must be evident that “truth” is a funny sort of thing, since many of us here claim to have it, yet disagree on so very many things.
so let us approach ideas humbly, and with open minds, as we are instructed to. let us reason together. let us think critically and creatively about this faith.
“test everything; hold fast what is good.”