Monday, September 12, 2011

Trying to Keep Love Alive in Everything We Do

About a week ago I read a blog post by a young pastor explaining his understanding of the characteristics of God, including the Trinity, or Triune God.  I completely agreed with the points of faith he put forth, but as I read the post, I found myself troubled over the tone of the article.

In his defense of the Trinity, which admittedly is a difficult concept to try to understand, he made a couple of statements that put me on edge, as a believer whose purpose is to show Jesus’ love to everyone possible.

In acknowledging the mystery that is God, and how someone might come to disagree, he said,

Don’t think more highly of your logic than you ought. Don’t you think it’s possible that there might be some things that are true about the infinite, sovereign Creator of the universe that are just a little difficult to wrap your much smaller, finite mind around?    Do you really think you’re so smart that you should be able to fully wrap up everything about the nature of God in a nice little intellectual package that is easy to understand and explain? Don’t think more highly of your logic than you ought.”

In the next paragraph he tries to encourage or perhaps challenge those who don’t or can’t accept the Trinity by saying,

Don’t be a hypocrite. The fact is that every skeptic who scoffs at the doctrine of the Trinity based on its incomparableness is a hypocrite.”
Is it really a fact? Every skeptic that can’t get their head around the Trinity is a hypocrite?

Although I agreed with the author’s doctrine, I disagreed with his presentation, and offered the following in encouragement.  Hopefully I was encouraging, and if not, I apologize and will work harder to be as loving as possible when offering reproof or correction in the future.

Or God just might tell me to keep my mouth shut.  Who knows.

I wrote:

I’ve always liked the analogy comparing the Trinity to the family relationship where a man can be a father, son, brother, uncle, grandfather, and husband, all at the same time. A man transitions between roles seamlessly, and if a big family group is together, often fulfills several roles at the same time. The essence of the man does not change – they are the individual they are at all times – but their role and relationship to each person in the family varies depending on the relationship with the person they are interacting with.

Admittedly, any analogy of the Trinity is by nature lacking, but I find the father analogy the most helpful for me. One person, one identity, but that one person looks different and interacts differently with the people in their 

I have a thought on the tone of the presentation of the truths here, though: It sounded accusatory and lacking in love as you labeled people who could be genuine believers and seekers as skeptics, hypocrites, and arrogant in their logic. It sounded exclusive and judgmental.

I encourage all brothers and sisters in Christ to be careful when labeling other brothers and sisters with words just as scoffers, skeptics, hypocrites, or labeling them somehow arrogant because they search the scriptures differently than you/us/I do. Be slow to assume and assert that those who think critically about scripture, who pray and search the depths of God’s word for meaning and guidance and are trying to reconcile what they read with how they perceive the world, are somehow errant and hypocritical in their search.

The search of the scriptures, the drive to seek truth, the questioning of what we consider established truth and the desire to understand God better, is never, of itself, a bad thing. The truth of God and the Bible, if it is a true teaching or revelation we hold to, will always prove itself out. It will always stand up to honest examination.

We need to remember that the wonderful confessions and foundations that we are able to stand on as pillars of our faith were worked out, in fear and trembling, by the church fathers exactly as THEY questioned scripture, questioned the teachers of their day, and searched the Bible for meaning and truth. Through logical thought, devotion, and long years of debate and discussion, often weathering the accusations and persecutions of the established church of their day, they established the foundations of thought and theology that underpin the churches today. They used their God given logic to struggle with the Biblical truths. The writings of Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Augustine and many others are all tributes to the logical and scholarly treatment of scripture.

And still the Body doesn’t agree on everything. There are great chasms separating doctrinal thought among Christian denominations, and in the midst of it all, Jesus’ work still goes on.

I find THAT amazing!

I encourage ever believer to be slow and careful about labeling someone a hypocrite.

Each of the examples in your 3rd paragraph is easily explainable by rudimentary science, and as you state, someone can explain it to you scientifically. Your lack of understanding or perhaps limited knowledge of the science, and your amazement over the phenomenon, does not negate the truth that there are others for whom the scientific explanation makes complete sense, and for them there is no mystery. The phenomenon is 
demonstrable scientific truth.

The Trinity, though, is unfathomable and indemonstrable (empirically) in its truth, and our understanding is based on faith. The fact that something is unfathomable and, in your words wont “fully make sense”, in turn makes an assertion of absolute correctness or incorrectness meaningless. There is no way to be absolutely “correct” with something that “doesn’t make sense”. The honest skeptic, then, would scoff at the person who asserts that their understanding of the unfathomable MUST be the correct understanding.

I submit then that Christians who assert that scripture unquestionably affirms the Trinity, which is empirically untenable but is an item of faith, and THEN accuse those who don’t agree with our untenable item of faith of being hypocrites, should be pointing the finger of accusation directly at themselves/ourselves. We simply cannot condemn anyone for disagreeing on something when, by nature, it is impossible to prove the correctness of what we ourselves assert.

I’m not questioning the faith or the truth of the Trinity. I wholeheartedly agree with your position on the truth of the Trinity. What I disagree with is the accusations you place against others, and the labels you attach.

We must be like Christ; acting in love in EVERY WAY we do life, including our disagreements with others. God allows people to disagree with Him all the time, and does not belittle or degrade anyone. He doesn’t label anyone as anything other than a beloved that Jesus died for. The words we say and write have meaning, and we must, as followers of Christ, do all we can to live in harmony and peace with everyone, including those we disagree with, because God wants us to be beacons of light and His love to His world.

Labels and accusations cause pain and division where, indeed, most of the time there should be none.

I urge us all, Christian brothers and sisters, to be Christ-minded, as much as possible, when we deal with others regarding what we believe. We believe by faith that what God has revealed in His Word is truth. On this most all believers agree. WHAT God says about that truth is clearly open to interpretation, and Christ loving brothers and sisters the world over have disagreements on certain issues. Asserting that the scriptural truth I/you/we hold to is THE scriptural truth and exact revelation of God’s nature is arrogant and unloving at the most basic level. We must deal with each other who have different ideas and with those who God hasn’t yet called to Him, with all the patience, gentleness, and firm loving kindness that Jesus expresses towards us.

There is nothing wrong with the Matrix. God is running it just the way He wants, and yes, much of it is a glorious mystery, but a seeker should never be discouraged from investigating and learning about God in the Bible for fear of being labeled a hypocrite or skeptic or even a heretic. God can deal with the truth of his Word just fine, and when God uses US to help someone see His truth, we must, must, must do it in loving kindness, just as the Holy Spirit does with each believer God has called.

Submitted in love.