Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Confessions of a stumbling theologian

I'm no theologian.

(Well...DUH...)

I'm no theologian and spent most of my Christian journey glibly accepting various theological assertions as truth with no real idea of whether or not they were actually true, as in Biblically sound. It was "what I'd always been taught" and saw no reason to doubt their veracity, especially as no one else was.

I knew "what I'd always been taught," with no real idea of the various theological labels attached to this position or that. I only knew what denomination I belonged to and could fairly accurately describe what we were against if nothing else. I will say here at the start that most of "what I'd always been taught" is in fact Scripturally and doctrinally sound, so please don't hear me picking a fight with my teachers or pastors or denomination.

Several years ago I found myself at something of a crossroads in my journey of faith. At the time I certainly did not recognize it as such, nor would it have occured to me to describe it so. And maybe crossroads isn't a good term as it seems to indicate a specific instant in time, a critical moment of decision. No, my experience was more gradual than that, yet it defined me all the same.

I'd gotten a taste of the meat of the Scriptures and it was a whole new world to me. My eyes were opened to see wonderful things in His law, and I realized there was far more to know of God and His Word than I'd ever imagined. I became determined to know His Word and discovered along the way that this pursuit was sometimes a lonely one, that I could not depend solely on someone else to tell me what to believe about God and His Word, even if that someone else was the most godly, passionate Bible teacher on the planet. God in His sovereignty placed me in a position where I had to take ownership of my faith, hammering out what I believed in light of what God's Word actually said and not "what I'd always been taught."

I don't mean to discount the profound influence of Godly, Biblical teachers and preachers. Their ministry is critical and necessary, no doubt about it. I am eternally grateful for the impact of many scholars and teachers of the Word. I know the privilege of hearing God's Word proclaimed from the pulpit of my church with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is a privilege I have yet to take for granted, a privilege that overwhelms me with gratitude.

But just as I tell my Bible study group at the start of each study, if you want to grow spiritually, it will never happen apart from personal study, just you and the Word and the Holy Spirit. My faith, my walk, my relationship with my Savior is just that: mine and not another's. I am to work out what God works within me.

I've described myself as a stumbling theologian, more or less falling into the sea of doctrine and theology on my own. Or maybe I was pushed in. Either way, I was driven to discover the truth first out of curiousity and then out of desperation. "What I'd always been taught" wasn't enough to hold me and sustain me. Mere tradition or orthodoxy never is.

I'm no intellectual. My faith, while comprised of far more than just "what I'd always been taught," is continually being refined there in the fiery crucible of truth. I delight in studying God's Word, in asking questions and finding answers, or perhaps even more questions, in the pages of my Bible.

What a thrill to discover a truth that "I'd always been taught" sustained by the weight of Scripture! And what a thrill to discover a dearly held tradition was merely that and nothing more! What a delight to know God and His Word, to mine the riches contained in His living Word, and to see Jesus there on every page!

Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe it? Is your faith your own, or another's? Have you heard God speak to you through the pages of your Bible?

God's Word is a sharp, two edged sword, piercing and dividing. Living and active. It is truth, truth that sanctifies. More precious than gold and silver. Eternal. More critical to us than bread. Everything we need for life and godliness. God-breathed. Equipping us for every good work.

May we crave it. May we hunger and thirst for it. May we tire of knowing secondhand, and seek instead to know for ourselves. May we say with the Psalmist that God's Word is more precious to us than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. May we delight in and meditate on its truths, becoming more like Christ as we are transformed from glory to glory throught its sanctifying work.

9 comments:

  1. We really do need to get into the Word ourselves! Great post, Lisa

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  2. Amen! You go girl!

    I came to this realization several years ago when I was in a church where the pastor would take liberties with the Bible passages he was "teaching." I started then studying the Bible for myself and realizing how awesome it is that we don't have to be schooled in a bunch of stuff -- that God can help me understand it all right where I'm at!

    And what's even greater is that we've been searching for a church. The one we visited this past Sunday is -- I think -- the church God would have us in. The pastor preached on Hebrews 5:12 - 6:2 -- growing up in Christ, learning the meat of the Word, and teaching others.

    I'm right there stumbling along with you! :)

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  3. Isn't it in our stumbling that we know we really can't do anything on our own? That's where I want to be too.... needing Jesus in every moment.
    Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  4. Wow. I can definitely relate as one who cut my teeth on a church pew! Excellent words, and very well said.

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  5. I love, love, love, love this post!!! I wish I had more time to dig into the meat of the scriptures!!!!!!! The bible is so amazing! It saddens me that so many Christians neglect to dig into the scriptures.

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  6. In the past several years, I have come to hunger for depth in my study. It is amazing to realize how deep and wide and far He is. The more I study, the more I am humbled. Thanks for beautifully capturing this desire and the inadequacy I feel many times in seeking wisdom and knowledge.

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  7. YES!!!!! I agree sister! I found myself clinging to truths I had heard as I started my Christian walk but have learned to dig deep in the Word myself and test test test everything I hear from others.

    Have an awesome day!

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  8. Wow, you DO write! And very well at that!

    I have been meaning to visit for quite a while as, several of my friends have you on their side bars, which is a compliment. So, I have popped over & I just love your place, your voice!

    I wrote a post about 1 1/2 weeks ago along these lines, called Let the Word Speak, very similar...I love when the Holy Spirit is leading all around the world through unifying themes!

    May God richly bless you and your family both through and for your good stewardship of His Word!

    in Christ,
    Maria

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