I’m getting dumber
Yep, there is no doubt about it, as I get older I am getting dumber. I am not talking about senility here; although I can’t be totally sure that isn’t happening too. If I am getting senile however, it is the best kind; the kind where I travel along happily unaware of it right up to the point someone comes and takes me by the hand and puts me in a safe place.
But by dumber I mean knowing less than I used to know and in particular less about all things Christian. There was a time where I believed that my Christian duty was to know all the right things about my faith and to help others know them too. I tended to define “growth” and “sanctification” in terms of an ever-increasing certainty about doctrine and “Biblical living”. I was sure that all the grey areas in my Biblical knowledge would soon turn black or white and I’d be happier.
So there I was, trying earnestly to be a veritable fountain of Biblical certainty. Calvinist or Armenian? Just ask me. Pre-trib, post-trib or amillennial? I’ve got that too. Complementarian or Egalitarian? Glad you asked. Want to know what the Bible teaches about baptism? Drinking? Healing? Speaking in tongues? Or a dozen other topics? I’m ready to tell you.
But as I’ve gotten older it hasn’t turned out that way. It’s not that I don’t have ideas and thoughts in these areas; it’s just that I am less willing to call those who read the Bible differently than me deluded or misguided. I tend to listen to their points of view, if not with agreement, but with a little more humility. I’ll discuss issues like that but I find myself more or less playing a gentle (I hope) devil’s advocate of the opposing point of view to what the person I am talking to is declaring.
I’m not sure I can remember where my previous quest for certainty came from. I have a sinking feeling that it might have been ego. Perhaps my spiritual security depended on acceptance and approval by my chosen church buddies. Or perhaps I was trying to build a measuring stick for holiness; sort of like the height lines parent draw on the door frame as their kids grow. At its worst I might have needed, like the Pharisee praying at the temple, someone nearby to be better than.
I am not even 100% sure why I’ve changed. Perhaps it was noticing that Jesus spoke in parables and stories, not in point-by-point doctrinal lectures. Or perhaps it was the way he commended the faith of people who knew little more than to come to him for help. But most of all it is probably the embarrassment I feel that I ever had the gall to think that I would know enough about God to give definite answers to complex and complicated questions.
I am not 100% sure where this dumbing-down process is going to lead. But I am beginning to think that I might be content with knowing that I love Jesus, that he loves me, and that I can trust him with my life.