Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What are you looking for?

What are you hoping to find?

When was the last time you changed your mind on a spiritual topic? What did that feel like? How often does that happen??? It's not often in our adult life that we can pin down a time where we had a new insight that really, drastically changed our point of view. I remember one of those wonderful moments, and in this article I want to share with you the very resource that I found extremely helpful in one of my personal breakthroughs!

First, I need to ask: How do you go about studying Biblical, spiritual, or eternal topics? Do you make sure you "leave no stone unturned" or do you avoid sources and ideas that make you uncomfortable? It's been said, there's more than one way to skin a cat... Well, while I've never skinned a cat, I do like to peal back the layers of the onion...

Secondly, I want to ask: Why do you study? Studying the Scriptures and investigating spiritual topics should have, minimally, a twofold goal:
#1. Increasing/enhancing our depth of knowledge. And, hopefully, #2. Experiencing some-type of transformation that helps us personally apply our new/increased understanding.

Third, I must point out: We are commanded in the Scriptures to be prepared to back up our beliefs and to continually grow in our studies. Read, for example, I Pet 3:15, II Tim 2:15, Heb 5:12-6:3 for admonitions on being lifelong learners...

The dangerous trap we need to be weary of, is that we "already know" all we need to know on the given subject and with a little study we can help verify what "I've always" thought... Or we surround ourselves with others who will "safely" repeat what we want to hear... There's not much room for growth there. Like my favorite Old Testament teacher at Harding, Tom Eddins, used to say, "The greatest enemy of learning is the illusion of knowledge." There's another danger too, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just dumping everything we've been taught and starting from scratch. To turn our back on our heritage is not only disrespectful, it's foolish!

How do we stay balanced in our studies, not being so ridged we can't grow, nor being so open-minded nothing can stay in our mind? In other words, how can we avoid the detrimental-immaturity Paul warns of in Eph 4:14 "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." Here's how: Be willing to admit that possibly we could've been wrong (or incomplete in what we did know) and then sincerely examine the evidence.

Whenever we merely seek to confirm what we've always thought, while we don't have to work too hard at that, we can't expect much personal gain... When we want to sharpen our thoughts and examine another's point of view, we have to stretch ourselves somewhat. I'd like to recommend for your consideration a useful series of books that covers several extremely interesting theological topics. The books I highly recommend to you are the "Counterpoints" series by Zondervan Publishing. I have at least a dozen of these counterpoint books on my shelf and each one is excellent.

Here's how they work. The editor/s will determine a topic for discussion, such as: Worship styles, Divorce & remarriage, Creation vs. Evolution, Baptism, are there still Spiritual gifts today?, and difficult topics like Hell. The editor will usually have four different views represented (inviting two to five Christian authors interact on the given topic within the book). How the authors interact is by each one submitting an essay, articulating their view on the given topic, and then in turn each author will critique the ideas of the other authors. So, you read one essay which is immediately analyzed on the following pages by contrary/differing views, then, each view is represented and examined so-forth and so on.

It's not a book series of debates; it is an exciting exchange of ideas/views from a crosscut of varying perspectives. As the reader, if you already have formed an opinion on a topic you will have an opportunity to have your current idea on a topic defined/articulated, and then examined to see it's strengths and weaknesses. If you simply are wanting to lean more on a topic that you are interested in but you haven't come to a conclusion on it yet, there are several views that can help jump-start your studies!

I recognize that for some people this "comparison" of ideas could be too challenging; yet for others it can be exhilarating! Please keep in mind as you consider utilizing this series of books, Prov 27:17 states clearly:
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Remember, All Truth is God's Truth!

1 comment:

Clarks, Inc. said...

It's been within the last year or so that I've been led to some reallignment in my theology, and as it happens, one of those books was a resource I have used as I've tried to figure out exactly where to land with regard to the issue.