Dluxe's World

Wednesday, April 19

Why?

Earlier this week, someone posed a question re: the balance we should seek between an 'intellectual' faith and one that is 'childlike'. While this provided good lunch conversation, I thought it was worth a little post on here as well.

First off, let's acknowledge that we're all different.* The specific way we experience our faith will vary, no doubt, because God wired us all a little differently. A passage that came to mind when were talking was from Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
And [God] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16, ESV)

God has blessed us with teachers who are tasked with building our faith and knowledge. As we mature, we are striving to get beyond being "tossed to and fro ... by every wind of doctrine". To borrow an illustration from John Piper, we must be trees rather than just leaves blowing around on the ground. Our roots must be driven deep through prayerful study and meditation on God's Word. Piper also illustrated this point using dolphins and jellyfish, but I'll leave that illustration to him!

The Apostle Peter wrote:
[B]ut in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16, ESV)

I have a son who is now four and a half. I think that fully 80% of the sentences that pass his lips start with the word "why". He asks questions about everything and fully expects an answer. In order to teach him, and in order for him to learn, his mom or I must be able to unpack and repackage the knowledge I'm trying to give him. The level to which we decide to drill down into the dark details varies depending on topic...

To be able to teach, I will need to have processed my beliefs carefully. Teachers need to be capable of communicating ideas multiple ways to help them 'stick' in their students.

Two side notes: First, we're never going to have all the answers. But we should have the skills to go get them. Also, I certainly don't mean that our teachings/responses have to sound like the text of some Reformalvinist musing on the soteriological differences between Anselm and Van Til. Simple answers are fine and often preferable. But, I think we must be able to do better than "That's just what I think... So there!".

To that degree, I think we're all called to an 'intellectual', maturing faith... We must understand what we believe and be able to provide a reasonable 'why' as well. This is for our great benefit as well as to benefit others!

In our evangelism, our ability to defend and reason about our faith can help people revisit their assumptions about Christians. We will also consistently encounter teachings that seek to swerve us away from a right understanding of who God is. This has always been a problem, of course, though I fear that it is going to be an increasingly large one in the future.

Currently, there's a 'debate' raging in the blogosphere re: whether or not Christ's bodily resurrection is factual, symbollic, or even all that important to the Christian faith. If you read my previous post, you know where I stand - and I would submit to you that the testimony of Scripture sides with me. There are people far smarter and 'eloquent-er' than me on both sides of this debate... The question is who are you going to believe, and how will you decide?

We must all follow the example of the Bereans in Acts. Our minds and our hearts need to be engaged, prayerfully, in seeking the truth of God. We must test the teaching that we are given with "Scripture and plain reason", as Martin Luther said. If we fail to think and grow in our faith, we are apt to be swept away by the slick presentation, lofty speech, or impressive pedigree that errant teachers throw our way...
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15, ESV)

*If there are any of you who doubt that people are different, look at someone passing on the street, burn their picture into your brain, and then run into the nearest public restroom to view your image in a mirror. Compare and contrast.

6 Comments:

  • Thank you for the useful method of determining the non-identicalness of humans. Being with two very different children every day has enlightened me on this topic to the degree that employing such a method is frivolous in my case; however, I am sure many readers will find it helpful.

    (I've gotta stop reading Dickens.....)

    By Blogger Eva, at 9:03 PM, April 19, 2006  

  • Actually, if the "nearest public restroom" is for the opposite gender, you won't even have to get as far as the mirror to realize that people are different. ;-)

    Now that I've made my smart-aleck comment, I'll go back and read the rest of the post.

    By Anonymous Brendt, at 1:36 PM, April 20, 2006  

  • Or as Peter wrote (emphasis mine): "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" -- something of a "theme verse" for my church.

    By Anonymous Brendt, at 1:50 PM, April 20, 2006  

  • Now that I've made my smart-aleck comment, I'll go back and read the rest of the post.

    Do you regularly read the footnotes before the article proper, Brendt? :-) Good to see you again!

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 1:51 PM, April 20, 2006  

  • Right-o, Brendt... And I think Peter's an important example for us as well.

    He openly admitted that reading Paul was 'hard'. Makes me feel better about the head-scratching I often have to do when studying!

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 2:08 PM, April 20, 2006  

  • The footnote was tied to an asterisk early in the post. Otherwise, no (and I don't read the last chapter of a book first either). ;-)

    By Anonymous Brendt, at 3:09 PM, April 20, 2006  

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