Over and over, I hear people argue their case as though they have the true revelation from God. Understand, I do hold that there is the concept of absolute truth. I just think that its less absolute than most of us make it out to be. Also, I’m not sure that I can be absolutely sure what of my beliefs are true and what of what I believe to be truth is less than absolute.
I have heard sermons, speakers and teachers and I have read books, articles and blogs by people that truely believe that they are aligned with absolute truth and though they may claim humility, “I’m not here trying to persuade you, but …”, they follow up their arguments with “this is a God principle” or “this is between you and God”. Laced in their words are declarations that what is being said comes directly from God – through revelation, tradition or scriptural interpretation. The tone of the words is that of authority, with phrases like “God’s word says …” or “God has been laying on my heart …”
“God’s word says” should be: “My interpretation of scripture is”. And “God has been laying on my heart” should come with the caveat that God could be laying the opposite on anther’s heart. In the charismatic realm this becomes even more insidious and manipulative. Our arguments come laced with “God is speaking to us” or “God is leading me to speak this”.
I believe that we all have the ability to succumb to an arrogance that we are right. We need the humility to realize, that though we take a stand behind what we believe, we could still be wrong. It is when we lack humility that we start preaching or teaching with a spiritual arrogance that nullifies the very truth we may have right. “though I have all knowledge and truth, but have not love/ humility…”
Here is an example of the spiritual arrogance that I am referring to (emphasis added):
“If by any means you arrive at a different view of the atonement than that which God graciously allowed the Reformed tradition to argue for so eloquently, then you fail to take seriously certain motifs which are unequivocal and emphatic, and which exist throughout the scope of special revelation.”
So here is my question: How do we reconcile between two different and/or opposing sets of beliefs; two differing interpretations of scripture? If I come to a different interpretation on what the atonement is, how do we bring our differences together? If I believe God is speaking to me and leading me one way and some one else is feeling God is speaking and leading them another, opposite way, what do we do about it?
This to me is the ultimate summary of where we are at in our day. The Reformation brought with it diversity and division. We are entering into an era that lays beyond the Reformation era. We are sailing in uncharted waters. I believe we are entering a time of diversity with unity. As the printing press was a catalyst for diversity and individualism (the individual and the individual congregation), the world wide web and globalization is becoming a catalyst in diversity and unity. Our neighbor is now anyone and everyone on earth. I can hear, debate and dialogue with Coptic Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Anabaptist, and Emergent forms of Christianity; and as I do, my attitude can be “which God graciously allowed [my] tradition” or it can be with the spirit of the above question.