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So What?

April 16, 2015

This past Sunday, in the adult Sunday School class of my church, the discussion leader started by saying that he wanted to give a “five minute overview” of the various end-times theories held by different Christians.  In my head I said “good luck with that” and, as it turned out, we got to the end of our one-hour class without even finishing the list of possible eschatological options.

About two-thirds through the discussion, as our choices got more and more complex, someone asked a very intelligent question – “So what?”  He was trying to grasp why this whole field of study was so intense and what difference it made.

While part of me was in hearty agreement with his sentiment I knew that what we believe about the end times does actually matter; it will impact the way we judge the world around us.  This guy, for example, makes it clear that we should oppose the nuclear deal with Iran because of, you know, Psalm 83.  A recent article in The Atlantic highlighted the way that ISIS interpretation of Islamic eschatology drives what they are doing.  Our beliefs impact our actions, even when the subject seems to others to be unrelated to the belief in question.

Evangelicals, with our conviction of an inerrant Bible, are legendary in our ability to wring out of Scripture the “biblical view” of such matters as fracking, climate change, immigration policy and a host of other things.  We seem unable to accept that the Bible may have nothing to say to the current debate on fracking for instance.  This is because, if we accept that the Bible doesn’t address everything, we have a fear that we might have to admit that it isn’t the comprehensive answer book we want it to be; that there may be some things God is expecting us to figure out with nothing more than general faith principles to guide us.

The problem is that if all you have to go by is faith principles you are left with no way to definitively judge the principles of others.  You are stuck having to persuade them to your point of view.   It is so much easier to call our principles “the inerrant word of God” than to actually justify them in the public arena.

I am free to believe that “the Bible clearly teaches” any number of things and in fact I do.  But that phrase can never be the ultimate trump card; it can’t turn a discussion into me and God vs. you.  In fact, let me lobby again for an addendum that I think we should add to every theological/political view we hold – “but I could be wrong.”

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From → Christianity

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