“The only way to understand the difficult parts of the Bible is first to read and obey the easy ones.”
John Ruskin 1819-1900
It’s time again for a little ODG wisdom. John Ruskin was an English art critic and poet, not really remembered as a Theologian but in light of my recent Sunday morning bible studies in Romans and some of the questions raised I think this quote is very relevant. God did not intend for the Bible to be complicated, yes there are many thoughts and concepts in the bible that can be a little daunting to interpret, but for the most part it is pretty straight froward. Of course we’re humans and we are opinionated and quite often we have different opinions and the other guys opinion is usually always wrong and the more controversial the subject usually determines how wrong the other guys opinion is.
God is beyond our understanding, but everything that is important that is going to truly determine your eternal destiny, is not that hard to understand. Unfortunately we tend to make the obvious truths unimportant and get all dogmatic about the difficult and controversial issues, and woe to the heretics that disagree with us!
I love to study, I love to get deep and look at all sides of an issue contemplating what is the truth behind the truth, and there is nothing wrong with that. I also realize that whatever truth I come up with doesn’t change the truth that is God’s truth! We can have opinions and debate on many doctrinal issues, it’s human nature to try and understand God, God wants us to contemplate and seek out his truths. We just need to understand when there is heated debate about what God truly means on so many of the hot doctrinal issues we argue about, God is more concerned about are heart toward each other than who is right or wrong.
I go back to my long held belief on doctrine and theology, there are eternal doctrines and temporal doctrines. Eternal doctrines are the ones this quote is referring to, the ones we need to understand, the ones that if wrong will affect our eternity, the ones that God makes very clear throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Some of them would be:
- There is only one true God
- He created everything and was before anything that was created.
- He is Triune “The Trinity” Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- Jesus is the Son of God, fully God and fully man
- Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead conquering death for all humanity.
- Salvation is only thru Christ there is now other way to eternity with God.
- We are all sinners and need Christ’s redemption and Grace.
- The Bible is God’s Word. It is infallible and unchangeable. (even if we disagree)
The temporal doctrines are the ones that affect our walk with God and relationships with God’s people. I am not saying they aren’t important and essential for our christian faith and understanding of God’s plan and Grace for humanity. I just believe that they are able to be interpreted and understood differently without effecting our eternity. In other words, if you get it a little wrong you might not experience all that God has intended for you, but you won’t loose God’s Grace. Some of these would include:
- End times prophecy, for example: the rapture (pre, mid, post tribulation or none at all) the time and date of Christs’ return.
- Eternal security, can you loose your salvation? I suppose this does have eternal consequences if your wrong and you think you can live your life however you want because you said a prayer one day at a church service, but my point is your opinion either way doesn’t save or condemn you. It’s belief in Christ and God’s Grace, nothing else.
- A big one now days is “are the days in Genesis during creation literal days or eras” I personally believe if God meant something other than days (24 hours) he would have said so. Regardless their are intelligent people on both sides of this issue and whoever is wrong isn’t going to loose their salvation because of it. God might say to them “What is so hard to understand about the word DAYS” but I don’t think he’s going to push the big red button and say “sorry you got that one wrong you don’t get in”. By the way I made up the big red button thing, it’s not in the Bible.
There are so many other things that we debate and argue about, split churches, condemn whole denominations and tag people as heretics over that do more harm to the body of Christ than good. Yes we have to be sound in our doctrine, Yes we have to study and test our beliefs against the word of God daily, I am not denying that. What I am trying to point out is we can understand things differently and still be Brothers and Sisters in Christ. As Christ himself taught “above all else Love”
Love can cover a multitude of differences of opinion!
God is Good!!!