I’ve been on the blogosphere since 2001 . My previous blog was called “The Boiled Frog Blog,” as in the old aphorism that you can kill a frog in a pot by turning up the heat in small degrees.
Matter of degree is something most Christians can’t handle. We have a tendency to make everything black and white and blame the Scriptures for the stark contrast. Few Christians would say that life works that way in practice, but we sure love it in theory.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about the basics here. Jesus Christ came in the flesh and was wholly Man and wholly God. This isn’t about Nicene Creed sort of stuff. It’s about the little things that keep us at each other’s throats.
C.S. Lewis talked about the increasing prevalence of “men without chests” in our society. Today, dad’s without chests have sons without chest in numbers rivaling the way rats breed. We’re awash in them.
We can all come up with a million faults that create men without chests, but one of the ones I never hear mentioned is an unwillingness to admit wrong. Those of us fed up with the culture of victimization will utter a hearty “Huzzah!” at the thought of making people live out the consequences of their own actions. But that’s a kid stuff kind of accountability.
You know what I would like to hear more often from individuals in our churches? I was wrong.
You know what I want to see written on a comment or post in the Godblogosphere, even once? I was wrong.
If we consider the Godblogosphere to contain some of the brighter people in the Western Church today—and I believe that may very well be true—shouldn’t we be seeing more admissions of wrongness? Smart people, by and large, should be acutely aware of when they’ve made an error. Or at least you would think they would be. So it’s curious to me to see all the pitched battles that occur every day in the Godblogosphere, missives filled with a massive numbers of characters typed onto a screen, yet the conversation eventually peters out with both sides claiming victory.
If the Bible is Absolute Truth, then it is True Absolutely. There’s only ONE WAY. As much as we say we’re for the inerrancy of the Bible, for most people it’s only as inerrant as it’s capable of being turned into a cunning argument that always wins. The problem is that the Bible doesn’t always work that way. The witness of a couple thousand years of wrangling over this doctrine and that should prove the truth of that statement. Has any Christian in the last two thousand years gotten the interpretation and praxis of ALL the Scriptures correct? Even Peter, one of the select apostles, was corrected by Paul on the matter of the Judaizers. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not arguing for a lax view of interpretation! Quite the opposite; I contend that there is only one interpretation that is correct.
The problem is that we’re not at that place of perfect interpretation, though we act like we are. Pick a topic within the Faith and see how many different views there are on that one topic. I studied sixteen different interpretations of the Book of Revelation, all from fairly orthodox views. But someone’s wrong. In fact, if only one of those interpretations is wholly correct (or in truth, possibly none at all), then the majority of Christians in the world have the wrong interpretation.
Just how narrow does the narrow road get?
We say things like “We agree to disagree agreeably,” but that doesn’t change the fact that from the standpoint of pure unadulterated Truth, someone has the wrong view. Paedobaptist or credobaptist? Supernatural gifts of the Spirit today or not? Dispensational or ready to toss another Darbyite on the barbie? Or maybe a smidgeon of each—or possibly neither. What’s the topic today and who’s right on it?
I guess this wouldn’t be so bad if we were more willing to say we’re wrong. How much better could our Christian community be if more of us fessed up to faulty doctrine in a couple places within our personal systematic theologies? Another gospel? If we were honest we’d have to admit that almost everyone of us has personalized the one Absolute Truth to the point that it’s no longer Absolutely God’s, but absolutely our own. And that’s an absolute mess.
Don’t get me going on translating doctrine into practice, either.
I always wonder what happens to those few flawed exegetes and self-deluded practitioners who see the light, admit wrong, and are restored to fellowship. We don’t hear about them too often. Maybe few actually complete the one-eighty. If so, I suspect the reasons are fear of failure and a rejection of grace. How about simple pride? We’re masters of saving face, aren’t we?
For a Christian to publicly admit wrong takes a real work of the Spirit. It takes no effort to stay stuck in error, but a lot of work goes into convincing someone of his or her misguided thinking.
You’ll know when real revival comes to America when you hear “I was wrong” uttered from the lips of every person who calls on the name of the Lord. Because in some way, by the standard of Jesus, each of us is.