|The Great Smokey Mountains|
I remember, it must have been 25 years ago, going to Cherokee Village in the Smokey Mountains with my wife and young son. We attended the drama "Unto These Hills," I believe it was called. They were talking about the God that the Cherokee nation worshiped. They did not call him "Jesus," nor the "Holy Father," and not even the "Holy Spirit." But, Donna and I left discussing the fact that their God sounded just like our God. Our minds went to the thought, almost simultaneously, if it just might be possible that God would reveal himself to different cultures in different ways. For instance, the ancient Cherokees probably never had the chance to hear of Jesus. Are we so narrow-minded, self-consumed and think that only the white, Judeo-Christian Western society who could read the King James Bible would warrant a relationship with the true God? I really have grown to doubt it through the years.
Now, I know Jesus. He is MY King. He is MY Lord. However, I cannot judge other people's, especially ancient people's, relationship with God. This brings me to the fact that I have recently been doing a lot of theological study. Not in the traditional sense. But, in the broader sense. I have made the comment which is the title of this blog in the past. I have friends whom I still hear say, or see post, "God's Word says it, I believe it, that settles it!" I have come to cringe when I hear, or read, that statement. I am convinced, more now than ever, that Christians pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Word. So, which part do you believe? Which part is settled? For, there are scriptural incidents that are not easily, if even, reconcilable. Here are a few examples:
- Didn't Jesus provide wine to the wedding at Galilee? Doesn't the Word also lead us to believe that the patrons of the wedding reception were already drunk by the time he provided the miraculous better tasting wine? And, didn't the Apostle instruct us not to get drunk? Hum, perhaps it's OK to provide the booze as long as you don't consume it. Really?
- It is theologically sound to baptize people in water using the words, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit." It is also theologically sound to baptize people in water using the words, "The Name of the Lord Jesus Christ." I hate to break it to my Trinitarian friends. However, every person mentioned between the lids of the Bible was baptized in "Jesus' Name." Also, historical records outside of the Bible support the fact that the early church only baptized in "Jesus' Name." So, unless you are baptizing in Jesus' Name, the "God's Word says it..." statement ain't flyin'!
- Does the Bible forbid women to speak or lead in church? Yes. Does it promote women as leaders in church? Yes.
I could go on and on with these illustrations. These are just a few. Here is the point I am trying to make. It is because of these inconsistencies within the Bible that we have differing doctrines and beliefs within the Body of Christ. Who is to say who is wrong and who is right?
- Scripturally, is it OK to get drunk? I suppose you could argue so. Scripturally, is it forbidden to drink alcohol? I suppose you could argue so.
- Scripturally, is it OK to baptize in the titles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Yes. Is it OK to baptize in the "Name of Jesus?" Yes.
- Scripturally, is it OK to keep a woman silent in church? Yes. Scripturally, is it OK to let a woman speak and lead in church? Yes.
I personally have decided to err on the side of grace, not law, in dealing with people, issues and the Word. With the menu of options we have to chose from in the Word, I find it somewhat hypocritical to hear, "God's Word said it, I believe it, that settles it." If so, you will have a lot of double-mindedness and bi-polar behavior to work through in your walk with God. So, let's stop judging others, stop fighting over which doctrine is "right" and which doctrine is "wrong," and do what our Savior, my Jesus Christ, told us to do, "Love God and love man."