Is your doctrinal screw loose?
It is a very, very tiny screw. I got on my hands and knees with a flashlight and used my other hand to gently sweep all over the entire rug. Of course the screw is the same color of the rug, and it's about 1/32nd of an inch long. I never found the screw.
Without the screw that holds the frame together that holds the lens on the glasses that go on my head that allow me to see...I can't see. I have severe astigmatism and I cannot see things even a few feet away. I'm not allowed to drive without glasses, either. I have a spare pair but the lens prescription is a bit outdated, but they had to do until the next morning when I went to the Dollar Store and bought an eyeglasses repair kit.
I got to thinking about the small, tiny thing that holds it all together. Once you take the small thing out, it all starts to unravel.
I'd written about this concept in March 2011 but from a different angle I am taking it today.
The pair of glasses are a system, unified, whole, and each part of it depends on the other for its entire integrity. When all parts are there, the whole thing works
The glasses are like the bible.
If you remove part of it, the whole thing falls apart.
I am NOT saying that the Word of God is in any way insubstantial, tenuous, or will falter. "Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? " (Jeremiah 23:29)
His Word upholds the universe and it will ever pass away. (Matthew 24:35).
I am talking about OUR belief in the Word. When you start picking and choosing this little part to believe and that little part not to believe, the unity and perfection of the word is such that each verse relies on the other. Your belief will start to crumble the moment you say something like this (and a church leader actually said this to me:)
"I'm not sure about the whole Jonah and the fish thing. As a matter of fact, I just take the whole Old Testament with a grain of salt!"
Picture the story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale as that little screw. Initially, you might think that not believing that small section of scripture won't harm your entire theology. It's just a few verses in a very short book after all. But if you doubt the Jonah story, then what about this:
"For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40).
Do you doubt what Jesus was saying? If you doubt the verse in Jonah 1, then you must doubt the verses in Matthew 12. And now your theological hold just got wider, and the screw in the glasses frame just got looser.
(Depiction of Jonah and the "great fish" on the south doorway of the Gothic-era Dom St. Peter in Worms, Germany.)
You might give room in your mind to the possibility of theological evolution - as Billy Graham does - and that ultimately to settle that belief in a literal version of the creation story "makes no difference." But oh, it surely does. Graham said:
"I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. ... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God." - [Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74]
Because Graham gave room in his mind for the possibility of evolution, then he made his hole bigger because Paul said "Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; in 1 Corinthians 15:45, and in 1 Timothy 2:13 Paul said "For Adam was formed first, then Eve;". Does a person discount those verses, too? One must, if he believes God could have evolved man and not created him, as Graham does.
In the end, Graham decided that all people go to heaven, even those who never heard about Jesus, as he told Robert Schuller and Larry King at different times. His slide away from the faith was long and slow, but just as damning.
|Noah's Ark, by Edward Hicks, Wikipedia|
The point is, you must believe all of it, or none of it.
I can't afford to go get more glasses. I decided it is more prudent to periodically make sure my glasses frames don't have a screw that's loose. If I have a screw loose, it could all too easily come breaking apart, and we would not want that to happen, would we! I'm pretty fond of seeing.
|Henry II suit of armor, |
"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it." (Hebrews 2:1)
"John Jefferson Davis writes:
Even though Calvin believes that regeneration is irreversible . . . he does not conclude that the Christian has any cause for spiritual complacency. Persevering in God's grace requires, on the human side, "severe and arduous effort." . . . The believer needs to continually feed his soul on the preaching of the Word and to grow in faith throughout the whole course of life. Since it is easy for the believer to fall away for a time from the grace of God, there is constant need for "striving and vigilance, if we would persevere in the grace of God." Calvin thus balances his theological certitudes with pastoral warnings. . . . The believer must continually exercise faith and obedience to make "his calling and election sure." (Davis, "The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine," 222.)
Believe all of it. If you doubt, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. That is one of His ministries!
In the end belief in what some claim are the more the more fantastical parts of the Word boil down to this:
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16)
The scriptures doesn't say some parts are good, or a few parts, or even most parts. It says all scripture. Check to see if you have a screw loose. The lens could pop out and then you will not be seeing clearly. But regular maintenance of your eye-wear will result in seeing clearly, and beholding Jesus is the most beautiful thing you could ever hope to view. Having a right view of scripture is that beautiful perspective.
PS: I did fix my glasses. It was very difficult and it took a long time, and many tools. The screw is so small, I needed to use tweezers to even pick it up. I gripped too hard and the thing went flying off somewhere. Repeat the search on hands and knees with flashlight and hand feeling around everywhere. Not to be found.
I spent about 45 minutes reconstructing the frames, setting the lens on the thin frame just right, squeezing the clamp together, trying the different size screws, using the teeny screwdriver, had to use the tweezers again at the end to hold the clamp tight enough so the lens would be securely held. Let me tell you, the whole thing was such a pain that it is WAY easier to make sure that it is tight in the first place than to re-do the whole thing at time, expense, and frustration, and risking having to spend even more to get new glasses!