Saturday, October 18, 2008

having all the answers

I am weary of Christians who think they have all the answers. While we should want to speak a word in season for a need to help anyone, we also need to own up to the reality that we just don't know it all.

This is particularly tiresome during this political time here in the United States when, especially to those who venture from the beaten path, there are a pack of Christians who are ready to set you straight, whether or not you asked for it. True also in regard to theology. There are those Christians who think they're doing God a service by trying to get you on their theological track. It's good and fine to talk about theology and where one stands on it. Here's one good blogger who does a fine job of this. But it's another thing when one is hammered left and right and not let go, because no matter what you say, it's off somehow. Why? Really because you don't accept their particular theological paradigm. No two Christians who think and read are going to agree on everything, or maybe better put see eye to eye, having the same perspective or take on everything in this life. So why try to do the impossible?

Job's friends may have not had all the revelation we have today, and they certainly did not. But in this story we learn something true for us today. We need to stop having pat, cut and dried answers for everyone's problems. Instead we need to be living and speaking- in that order by the way- in a manner which we'll help all find their way in Jesus. Only God can meet each person in their need. We need to quit thinking we can solve people's problems for them. Instead we need to help them come to the one who can help them- Jesus. God knows and God understands; we do not.

Of course this doesn't mean we don't work at loving God with all our minds so that we do work on understanding more of God, his word and his ways in Jesus. We need to keep working on this. But to do so means an increasing dependence on God and less confidence in ourselves. That is to be a major part of what we believe as foundational truth, so that we can live in the truth that is only found in Jesus.

What might you like to add to this?


Crowm said...

Hlo Ted!

The discussion is what I enjoy. I learn best when many different people with differing views gather around the "table" and banter about truth. Although I have an opinion, I pray it never becomes or is perceived as arrogance. My faith is really strengthened when everyone comes with humility.

I like what Leonard Sweet says in 11 Indespensible Relationships about discipleship. "A copycat Christianity filled with quivering knee-jerk, butt-kissing, sound-the-same look-alikes is the exact opposite of authentic discipleship."

Having an attitude of arrogance leads no one to the discipleship Christ desires. That said, I believe it's irresponsible just to coast without being challenged and even discuss the deep stuff.


Andrew said...

"Instead we need to be living and speaking- in that order by the way- in a manner which we'll help all find their way in Jesus."

I think this is true, in a weird and unsettling way. The only cut-and-dried answers lie in God. I think about Paul's counsel to Timothy over false brothers and potential threats in the church: "God knows those who are his." It's ultimately not up to us to make final distinctions (while not forgetting the office of the keys), for God alone gets the final word. Is it not God whose word justifies and vindicates? I think that a major theme of 1 Corinthians 1-4 is that we need to let each man stand before God according to his own work and convictions, because only Christ will judge in the end, and by him each person will be approved or exposed.

Anonymous said...

i only have one answer and even if i have doubts haunting my thoughts, my heart stays with this answer, when i go in circles, i always come back around to this answer, the only answer, the only way that my heart knows is true is Jesus is Lord and the expressed Love of the Father for us.

by the way...the political television ads and the whole race is just too much for me to watch.
it is like a bunch of birds fluffing their feathers and crowing all at the same time.

-bill said...

In my estimation, truer words have never been written than these:

Only God can meet each person in their need. We need to quit thinking we can solve people's problems for them. Instead we need to help them come to the one who can help them- Jesus.

Thanks, Ted! You've blessed my life today.

-bill @ spiritual oasis

Allan R. Bevere said...


Great post; sometimes it is difficult to know where the line is between profound and deep conviction, and honest intellectual humility. Perhaps continued and respctful dialogue goes a long way toward preserving both.

We must never forget St. Paul's reminder that, this side of eternity, all of us see through a glass darkly.

BTW: Years ago in a clothing store, I saw a t-shirt that read, "People who think they have all the answers are particularly annoying to those of us who do."

I wish I had bought it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks. I much agree and am unhappy, really, when Christians for one reason or another can't discuss difficult issues, or issues in which not all Christians agree. That at least can help us understand the position of the other, and more often than not we'll learn something helpful for ourselves in that. Listening is so key in that.

Thanks for sharing, and your blog likewise is exemplary in encouraging sane, clear discussion on such matters.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen. Thanks.

Yes, in the end all stand before God for judgment. And now we need to seek to help all stand before God in Jesus for grace.

Again, I appreciate your faithfulness shared in expressing the truth but doing so with grace. I don't take that for granted, and seeing so much of the opposite when I was first blogging a few years back might have ended my blogging then, except I found some blogging like your own.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good that we can come back to that. That's our hope, for sure.

As to politics, I'll be glad when it's over. Politics is divisive in ways that often are not helpful. This again is a case in point where those in disagreement need to listen well to each other, even if it brings no consensus. We're all wrong at certain points, and I believe it's good to have Christians involved in both major parties and across the political spectrum. Though I also think we Christians tend to put too much weight in what we do on this, and forget what our identity in Jesus and consequent mission is at present.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks. I got that from a recent read by Rowan Williams on the desert fathers and mothers. Not a quote I don't believe, but just from reading it, though I think the book says nearly the same thing.

Ted M. Gossard said...

haha, Allan, I'd love to have that t-shirt myself!

Thanks, and good words you share with us. Even on John 3:16, though we by faith do have understanding on it, yet we don't get it apart from grace and God's help, and even then I can be dense. How much more so the difficult to be understood passages, as is mentioned in 2 Peter concerning some passages in Paul's writings. Yes, we do need a good dose of the humility you speak of here.