Monday, April 09, 2007

we don't understand it all

I was recently struck afresh with Scot McKnight's thought that in our understanding as human beings, we are cracked. Therefore none of us can put our full weight on what we think, though certain things as we understand them from God, we can base our lives on. Like, for example, John 3:16 for a start.

I distrust theologies that have all the answers in the sense of not humbling owning human fallibility across the board. That is an inherently flawed theology. This goes for issues in regard to ethics, philosophy, politics, etc. We simply don't understand it all. And what we do understand, we need to hold with humility, knowing that it is God alone who understands fully.

It is important that we seek to love God with our whole beings, including all our mind. But we must remember that our minds as a gift from God are in the process of being renewed, and not for the purpose of knowing everything. But to be like Christ in following and living out and in the will of God beginning now. Our minds are servants under God's revelation given to us from Scripture and in Christ.

This will mean a life where we will have to adjust our thinking at times, where we will see that someone else may have better insight on something than we do.

I especially like the thought, and it indeed is a challenging one for us, but in a good way, that good thinking is godly thinking. Or, that right thinking stems from the desire to please God and live well before him and in his eyes (I can't recall exactly where or from whom I picked this up, nor the exact way they expressed it.).

This is not saying that Scripture or even creeds are subject to change. Certainly not Scripture. And creeds from the church should be understood as to how they arose and the witness they sought to give to God's revelation given to us from Scripture. How I understand a creed or theological truth (such as the Trinity) can change over time, hopefully for the better, while I still hold to the same truth as stated in the creed as a witness from the church of Scripture's teaching on what is central to the faith.

In the end we have to pray for and seek God's guidance and help. God is a God of grace and mercy. He will lead us on as we seek to follow. Our following certainly is not infallible, though his leading is.

What thoughts would you like to add here?


Mark Goodyear said...

"Good thinking is godly thinking."

I like that, Ted. And it reminds me of something I read from Dallas Willard (I think it was in the Divine Conspiracy).

Jesus died on the cross and rose again to save the world. He was God, and he was man.

But he was a super brilliant man. Moreso than Einstein or any other elite intellectual.

Jesus was the smartest man that ever lived.

Alan Knox said...


I love this humble approach to Scripture and following God. I especially appreciated these statements: "In the end we have to pray for and seek God's guidance and help. God is a God of grace and mercy. He will lead us on as we seek to follow. Our following certainly is not infallible, though his leading is."

I just started a series on my blog called "Connecting the dots..." in which I plan to examine similar topics. You've given me some things to think about as I complete this series.


Aussie John said...


Found you through Alan Knox's blog.

It warmed my heart to read your approach, and especially appreciated your willingness to admit the issue of human weakness into your thoughts.

There is an increasing tendency in our country, for church leaders to take upon themselves an attitude of infallibility. To question their "vision", teaching or practices is to be given an invitation to the exit.

Thanks again.

Aussie John

David said...

Very nice.
Why is it that people do think they have all the answers?

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, Thanks. I like Dallas Willard, having both read and heard him.

And it's interesting how humble even Jesus was in his thinking. He claimed that he said only what the Father taught him. He was dependent and perfectly received from the Father, unlike us, who imperfectly receive from God.


Ted Gossard said...

Alan, Thanks. That's one reason I like blogging alot. I learn from others and am stimulated to think on things. It's great to be able to bounce things off each other. And I've really appreciated your posts and way of sharing, which I've found edifying.

Ted Gossard said...

Aussie John, Nice to hear from someone from "the land down under". Thanks for your very kind words.

Those spiritual leaders must be misguided themselves. It's only as we seek to humbly follow that we can be the leaders Christ has called us to believe, surely. Thanks!

Ted Gossard said...

David, Thanks.

Good question. I think the more we really learn about ourselves and God, the more we really learn from God, the more we realize how little we know. Like Einstein, even, we become in awe, like children over God's world and creation.

And I think too as we grow up and are maturing, we begin to realize (often through the hard knocks of life) that we're definitely learners, and in need of a good teacher/mentor/Shepherd.

Every Square Inch said...

Your comment about creeds is interesting. That's one of the reasons that I am spending some time reading up on church history.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, It's a very good study. Menno Simons and the Anabaptists thought they could start from scratch with the New Testament in their "radical reformation". But they learned better. What the church said through the centuries, as well as why they said it, is important for us today as a witness to the truth revealed in Scripture, I believe. (Menno Simons was falsely accused of being anti-Trinitarian since he initially, anyhow, sought to use the language of Scripture. Timothy George's book on the Reformers is quite helpful.

This program and Jaroslav Pelikan in particular are helpful in understanding creeds, I think:

Ted Gossard said...

Here's Timothy George's book I referred to: