I am often jealous of people who believe they know exactly what the Bible says about a certain topic. They see the Bible’s words as rigid truth and that is the end of discussion. They know what they believe and how to respond to people who question their beliefs.
However, as jealous as I might be at times, I know that is not my path, nor will it ever be.
I recently listened to someone claim that they knew what the Bible said and meant in regards to homosexuality. Their certainty caused me to cringe. Can we know exactly what the Bible says and means?
Historically, Christianity has failed immensely at knowing what the Bible says and means. Knowing what the bible says has resulted in slavery, apartheid, hostility to women in the church, the degradation of the environment, and more recently prejudice against individuals who have same gender attraction.
Of these topics, many are now seen as completely unbiblical, whereas once they were held to as biblical truth.
Our eagerness to be certain has caused suffering to countless people and done irreparable damage to the name and message of Jesus.
So is it bad to be certain? How can Christians actively pursue a greater understanding of God and our world while avoiding the types of unmoving convictions that have done harm in the past?
On the other hand there are also things that we should be unmovingly convicted about. God’s love of humankind and unending grace would easily qualify. But what about other topics which the Bible addresses (or at least appears to address)? What about homosexuality, theories of atonement, peace and the sword? How can we be convinced of the Bible’s message on these or other such topics when people in the past have done so much harm by being similarly convicted of topics addressed in the Bible? Should we even seek to be certain or will it cause us to be unresponsive to new revelations?
All that being said I want to note that it may be dangerous to be convinced on either side of a topic. Usually in the church it boils down to conservative versus liberal, which side are you on? I know it is never as clear as that but I think it is dangerous to be fully convinced on either side. Openness to new ideas, new information, and revelations are a must, no matter how convicted we are on a certain topic.
However, I find that the annoying thing about not being completely certain about a lot of things is that I feel like I do not have any answers, only more questions (note the amount of questions above). The reason I am jealous of Christians who believe unerringly in the Bible’s words is that it gives them a solid ground on which to stand. I do not always feel like I have that type of firm foundation in my beliefs (yes, yes...go ahead and quote First Corinthians three at me).
So what to do? Is it okay to not really be completely convinced of much, yet open to new revelations every day? Is that just a way of getting out of doing any hard work or is it the only way to remain faithful to a mysterious God?
If you are left baffled by this post, rest assured that the author also remains baffled.