Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Being Wrong is Okay (For the Time Being)

One thing that is often pointed out by non-Christians is how Christians have so many different interpretations of the Bible. First of all, such observations usually lack the recognition that we agree on so much. Second of all, such observations fail to take into account that Christians typically recognize that understanding comes over a period of time for Christians.

The law of noncontradiction is true. That is, something is not what it is not. Regarding beliefs, some people forget this simple law of logic and want to claim that truth values are relative to individuals. The reason is because they want to believe what they want to believe without being scrutinized for it based on some larger discoverable objective truth. But the law of noncontradiction indicates that where we have more than one person who believes mutually exclusive things, only one of them can be right (and possibly none of them are).

The only conclusion is that most of us wrong about something, and are certainly ignorant about many things. The Bible takes this into consideration. There are certain core things we need to get right and we have the testimony of God’s revelation as well as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Because of the guilt of our sin, we cannot bear to understand the truth fully. Knowing this, the Holy Spirit of God guides us gently, revealing things as we are able to handle them.

This is why Paul tells us not to violate the conscience of people who believe that we should not eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8). Who is right? Should people be allowed to eat meat sacrificed to idols or should they abstain? Read the passage. I won’t go into it here. But I will make these observations:

  1. People abstained from eating meat sacrificed to idols because they worshipped those idols before they understood the truth of Christ and partaking of that meat was a burden to their consciences. However, not everyone had that problem. So, we are allowed to be wrong in ways that benefit us.
  2. However, we are still wrong. God doesn’t want to leave us there. He wants us to grow in our understanding. That means putting of childish things as Paul also tells the Corinthians in chapter 13. So this cannot be used as an excuse to believe whatsoever anyone wants.
  3. Therefore, we need to be humble to the fact that we need to improve our understanding. We cannot have pride in the belief that we have it all figured out or to deny that there is any understanding that is greater than what we currently understand. If a donkey can inform Balaam, then God can use anyone to enlighten us.

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