I love the things of God. I love to study His word and learn more of His ways, and read and study topics on Christian matters. This year I’ve delved a little more into the topics of Calvinism and some opinions on the end times. I’ve so far studied enough of both topics to decide that I’m not a Calvinist, and that I need to do more study on Revelation to work out whether I’m in favour of pre-millenialism, post millenialism, or any kind of millenialism.
Do these things matter? Yes and no. There are many other topics on which Christians will have differing opinions, and will use Bible verses to justify their position- the ordination of women; preference for unmarried missionaries and ministers; infant baptism; long hair on men and remarriage after divorce are a few more examples.
In the course of examining Revelation and the millennium, I recently watched a YouTube clip entitled “An evening of Eschatology” with John Piper and Doug Wilson, Sam Storms and Jim Hamilton- all notable theologians with extensive academic training. It’s an interesting watch, not only for the subject matter, but also to note that these men had very different viewpoints on the same subject. The discussion became a little heated at times, but demonstrated that Christians can interpret the Bible in different ways, yet be respectful towards each other. They concluded with emphasising the love, grace, prayer and mutual love of Christ that they shared. The discussion can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=an+evening+of+eschatology+-+piper+hamilton+wilson+storms&sm=1
When I disagree with a practice in a church, or with the viewpoint of a passage of scripture that another Christian has, I find that those things challenge me to study the area more deeply and to question my own thoughts about the issue. Sometimes if we have been in a particular church for a long time, we fail to realise that there even are other viewpoints elsewhere. I was saved in, and for many years attended churches where there were women pastors. Then for several years I attended a church where there were no women pastors, or deaconesses. During the years I attended that church I studied and thought more about women in ministry than I had done in all my previous years of church attendance put together.
One thing I try to be careful of is to be wary of following a person and that person’s interpretations of scripture. We always need to go directly to the Bible and pray to God to reveal Scripture to us through His Holy Spirit. Commentaries and other study tools are of course often very useful, but we need to consider what is written in the Bible as distinct to what humans have made of it. I don’t want to define myself as a Wesleyan, or a Calvinist or Franciscan (possibly, being a woman, I may not be eligible for the latter...). I don’t want to own a Bible with Joyce Meyer’s name on the cover, much as I enjoy some of Joyce’s teachings. The more that one reads and studies the work of human theologians, the more one realises that you will not agree with everything that they say, and that is a good thing. If you agreed with everything they say, you wouldn’t be doing much thinking for yourself. And don’t think that because a person has been to Bible College or has a degree, everything they say or print will be correct. Some theologians can be blinded to truth and some laity or unschooled may be given insight and anointing. God is not always a respecter of persons. Some bible colleges do not teach that Satan is a real, distinct entity. Some do not teach that creation occurred in seven literal days. I disagree with both these perspectives.
Divisions in the church over theology have in past centuries resulted in church splits and entire new denominations being formed, disunity which causes the enemies of God to point the finger and accuse Christians of not being able to agree amongst themselves. We are to be aware of this and to keep in mind the fundamental truths of the gospel message and the great commission to the church to take the gospel to all peoples. This is why Paul admonishes the Corinthian church:
“One of you says “I follow Paul” another “I follow Apollos” another “I follow Cephas”; still another “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul?”
I wouldn’t want anyone to read this blog and just agree with me on anything concerning scripture without praying for wisdom, reading their Bible and other sources and thinking about what they themselves believe the Holy Spirit is saying to their own heart and mind. (Then you can agree with me....just joking!) We are all fallen, fallible humans, albeit as Christians saved ones whose minds and hearts are being transformed into the likeness of our glorious Saviour Jesus. What a joy it is to realise our understanding of God is deepening and growing in our Christian walk. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”