Your theology is flawed … and so is mine. That is the first thought that went through my head as I listened to a preacher recently. The topic and passage he was speaking about were one of those of which I was overly familiar. I have studied it in English and Greek. I have read numerous commentaries, listened to countless sermons, and gathered dozens of articles on this one piece of scripture. As the preacher was speaking, I could hear flaws in his interpretation and arguments.
I am not saying this proudly; I actually say this humbly. My second thought was, “How many times have I spoken about topics that I had not researched enough?” I wonder how many times I have misspoken about God, not from an erroneous position, but a slightly flawed one.
As I processed these thoughts, I came to a few realizations for those of us who follow Jesus.
- Humility is a crucial issue. A believer must maintain a mindset that says, “I don’t know everything.” I fear anyone who thinks they have the Bible mastered. Everyone must be willing to admit their lack of knowledge in some areas.
- Real followers are lifelong learners. There is so much to learn and know about God, his word, and his will. When I think I have learned everything, someone comes along and shows me something new in a book or teaching. Our humble attitude must lead us to continual study.
- Ask, “Am I teachable?” Is your mind open enough to learn new things if they are presented to you? Are you willing to listen to the viewpoints of others? If someone showed you an area where you need to change, would you look?
- Draw lines in pencil. You may view some issues wrongly. Maybe you are not entirely wrong, but perhaps you need to move the line an inch or two as you learn more. Do you have enough space in your beliefs to move if you see that you and God disagree on something? Pharisees draw lines with markers; disciples use a pencil.
- Be content with incomplete information. There are areas of my life that I have decided I will never be an expert. Faith is a unique discipline in that it touches every other area of study. It raises questions of science, philosophy, psychology, literature, and a host of other topics. I want to learn them all with in-depth knowledge, but there is never enough time. Keep learning, but know there will always be some areas just beyond your grasp.
I do not write this to discourage you but rather to encourage you. There is so much to learn. So, keep learning. Read, listen, study, and open yourself up to a world of ideas. You will need to process these ideas through sound interpretation principles, clear thinking, Christian tradition, and other logical tools.
I frequently tell people; the Bible is like the ocean. It is shallow enough a child can play in it, and deep enough no diver can reach its depths. The sad result is that we always have flaws we are working through in our beliefs. The good news is that we have a lifetime to learn them.