Is being wrong, good?

I ran across a very good lecture from a lady named Kathryn Schulz. Her short lecture was on the idea of being wrong, and that coming to that conclusion, is not a bad thing. Rather it is the source of every age of enlightenment. Until a person realizes they are wrong about something, they believe they are right….right?

When you really think about it, the statement, “The more I know, the less I understand”, is true.

I am sometimes quite convinced that I know a lot about a particular subject or that I have a reasonable answer to a question or problem. The problem is when someone challenges that premise with a logical rebuttal. A while back, I was very distressed about the validity of certain things I taught others. I mean, I know what the Bible says about many things and most of it makes a lot of sense to me. But, the truth be told, there are also many things about God and truth that I cannot comprehend. That, in part, is why I started this blog. I can never be absolutely sure that everything I believe is true, really is. That is where faith comes in. Jesus said we must become like little children if we want to see the Kingdom of God. This doesn’t mean we assume everything is plain and simple, either.

I thank God that He gave us the scriptures, because without their plain presentation of the fallen condition of mankind, it would be impossible to figure out how we could ever communicate or be on a r4elationship level with our Creator. It is very comforting to see that, without exception (Melchizedek and Enoch we know too little about to say), each hero of the Bible failed to be right about everything. In fact, they were all wrong about something. And, by being wrong they were able to learn something about themselves and about God.

I recently read the biography of John Wesley, by Henry Rack called Reasonable Enthusiast. Now, many people assume either that Wesley was absolutely right about what he taught, or absolutely wrong. I tend to believe he was, like all of us, right about some things and wrong about others. It was revealing to me, to see that Wesley was constantly validating his own assumptions by the experiential nature of other people’s feelings and experience. In fact, to his dying day, John Wesley had doubts (according to his own journal) about whether he was right about some of his teachings. Lorenzo Dow, an extemporaneous and itinerant evangelist of the late 18th century, once felt that the new form of melodic singing that was made popular by Wesley and his brother Charles and Isaac Watts, were not conducive to evangelism. He was especially unconvinced that songs written by laypersons and based on popular tunes could have any spiritual effect on his audiences (see Nathan A. Hatch’s excellent short analysis of early American Evangelicalism ), but was soon convinced otherwise.

I have real problems with people that believe things that are not plain in scripture. That includes everything from “entire sanctification”, to “speaking in tongues” being evidence of salvation, beliefs based on experiential feelings or impressions, women as pastors, prosperity being a promise to believers, “divine healing” being promised to all, and much more. I am of the partial-preterism persuasion regarding eschatology, since the rapture and the idea of Christ actually reigning in person on the earth for an insignificant period of 1,000 years and offering sacrifices for His own sinless self (Ezekiel 46:2) seem quite absurd theology in light of the book of Hebrews.

At the same time, I am more and more convinced that none of us see more than, as Paul said, “through a glass darkly”. It is presumptuous for me, or anyone else, to think they are “it” and have all the truth or know all the ins and outs of being a Christian. I have many goodhearted and sincere brethren, whose ideas about what is acceptable worship, fellowship, and service differ from mine. But, I also know the scriptures say “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” and “No one speaking by God’s Spirit says, “Jesus is cursed.” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

I worry about becoming ecumenical, which seems to imply compromise. But this is pretty much where I am at these days. Paul says, “Don’t judge anything before the time (the day Jesus judges everything)” (1 Cor 4:5). I used to have a lot of trouble with appearances and I believe that there are things we can discern as wrong or out of bounds, but I have found people’s hearts are what count, not their appearance. Tattoos and piercings are wrong for me, but I cannot judge that for others. I am uncomfortable with them and these automatically make me question a person’s sincerity as a Christian, but I have been surprised by the level of maturity and godly concern for others in people who don’t think these things are sin. As one wise man of God once asked me, “What are they doing that is unscriptural?”. True, Moses’ Law said the Israelites were not to cut their skin “for the dead” or write on their bodies (Leviticus 19:28) and I see this as God saying, “You will not be like the nations that surround you.” Does it apply to us today? To some extent, I believe it does.

Jesus says, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16) and He prayed for us, in John 17:20-23, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23) Isn’t it Satan who has divided the church? It certainly isn’t God who wants believers to be separated over foolish suppositions and creeds.

Simply put, the only rule for separation is when people don’t live righteously (1 John 1:7) or teach something that isn’t scriptural (2 Thess 3:14, 2 Timothy 2:23) in any sense. One example is that Mary was a virgin and sinless. Nowhere in scripture is there even an allusion to that idea. Or, the idea that everyone will get to heaven by whatever path they choose.

I was raised and molded in my thinking, by the tyrannical Christianity I grew up in. I never did completely buy into the idea that “We are right and everyone else is deceived” mentality. But it had a lasting effect on me. I fear being wrong, but scripture also says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) So what if I am wrong about a lot of things, as long as I, 1. Love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and 2. love my neighbor as myself (i.e. never do or consider harm to or ignore the needs of anyone), God tells me I will be accepted by Him, for Christ’s sake (Romans 13:8).

I believe God’s Word is the truth, but when you consider the almost innumerable disagreements we all have about the meaning of certain scriptures, isn’t it fairly plain that we are all wrong about something? Perhaps we need to surrender this human weakness of thinking we have to have everything exactly correct in our theology and practice and just concentrate on the gospel:

1. Man is fallen and cannot help himself or ever come to enough knowledge to save himself from death (Romans 3:23, Galatians 3:22)
2. God has sent His perfect and everlasting Son to take our place, erase our shortcomings, and reconcile us to God through the shedding of His own blood (Romans 5:6-10)
3. God raised Jesus from the dead, by His power and to fulfill His promise that He would free us from captivity to this present world and the evil one who bent everything to wrongness (Romans 6:9, 8:11)
4. Everyone who believes this is really true will be saved from death and all future judgment of condemnation when they repent, confess Jesus is Lord, and are baptized into His body for the forgiveness of their sins (Romans 6:3-8, 10:9-11; Acts 2:38)
5. Continuing in this belief is absolutely required in order for your faith to be proved valid (Romans 6:16, James 1:3, 2 Peter 1:1-9)

Beyond these things, there are many disagreements. But, if you confess Jesus as your Lord, have been immersed in His name (the Greek word baptismo means immersion), and are pursuing the holiness “without which no one will see the Lord”, then I extend to you the right hand of Christian fellowship.

Your comments, even if you disagree, are welcome if presented with a “I could be wrong…” attitude.

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