Christians need to listen . . . and learn

A miner listens to the movement of the mine.

A miner listens to the movement of the mine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve often asked for comments in opposition to my blogs, and recently I’ve been getting them.  A danger of following a perfect God is that we tend to believe that our knowledge of him is perfect too.  But if you don’t listen, you can’t learn. Some of us manage to get past doctrinal barriers put up by our denominations, but there is another barrier of our making: those who are skeptical about Jesus and the Bible. I’ve been challenged recently by comments from my cousin Ron, who is a Christian (and certainly not skeptical about Jesus) on facebook about my last post. But go ahead and check out comments on this site by kirk kirkjerk, particularly on my most recent blog and the one from July 31, about Chick-Fil-A.

I knew Kirk from a church youth group we were in way back when I was in college. We haven’t connected until recently when he started commenting on my blog. He makes some fantastic observations that help fine tune what I believe. There are many significant things we don’t agree on, but that’s fine with me. I’m sure I don’t agree with you on everything either. I gotta admit, it makes me nervous when I see “kirk kirkjerk” has left a new comment for me to explore. But, he always makes me think hard about the nature of God and the Bible. In fact, his comment on the last blog led me to new insight on God’s promise to Abraham. He hasn’t replied to it yet, so I’m typing quickly and anxiously.

Some of my the anxiety I experience has to do with the possibility of somebody finding a serious flaw in what I believe. But, if there is a serious flaw – I need to be willing to change it.  That it might play out in front of hundreds of people makes it more risky. Since I’m writing a book that encourages Christians to take risks for their faith, it’s only fitting that I do the same.

There’s also the misconception that if we don’t believe exactly the same with someone about everything than we must be mortal enemies.  Sounds silly, doesn’t it?  Thanks for the tough comments, Ron, Kirk and anyone else who has differing viewpoints. Keep ’em coming.

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8 thoughts on “Christians need to listen . . . and learn

  1. There’s a few verses that are helping to free me up – I say “are helping” because this is a process. I’m far from living this out consistently. I’ve got a ways to go. A few of these verses are “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV The Lord’s the only one I need to be concerned with pleasing. Everyone else comes in a far second, if at all. Probably not at all. I can only serve one master. Others input is helpful to see/evaluate myself and beliefs but that about it. At the end of the day I want to please only Him. 🙂

  2. If we don’t know everything about God then should we say “we know enough about God”? Maybe we do know enough about God. I mean at this particular moment in life. This is usually the time that God will share something new and brilliant and sometime hard. And if by saying I know enough God then maybe I really don’t.

    • True. The Spirit reveals God to us as he sees fit. So, for those who truly seek God consistently, then we can consider that we know enough about God for this time in our lives. He knows what we are mature enough to handle, after all. But for those that don’t seek to know him, they are missing out. Your last line keeps it in perspective. To say “I know enough about God” sounds like there is no desire to know more – which in itself would indicate that that person doesn’t really know much at all about him. Great comment, Jon.

  3. Thanks for the shout out.

    I sometimes regret my kirkjerk moniker, chosen more for the silly rhyme than any statement of intent.

    The being willing to change it sentiment is one of the most noble ideas of humanity, and really uncommon in practice. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was more actively lived out with the scientific-style viewpoint– not that that viewpoint hasn’t made some blunders in the past and not that it doesn’t haven’t a huge body of consensus belief that I’m in no position to test (for example, the estimates of stars in the universe, or for that matter, the concept that things are made of atoms) but it represents a process of looking at the universe, making observations, making theories, testing them, and even then not holding on to any concept of truth so tightly that you can’t let go when further evidence comes along.

    Science comes up short in talking about how to live, of course. (And misguided attempts to do can lead to horrible things like Social Darwinism)

    But still, in practice, I find the Faith of my Fathers tends to be a self-appointed house of cards, with Biblical Literalism being the wind. (Ok, that’s a terrible metaphor) But I feel like the Evangelical message is often one of no middle ground: either every aspect is true, and obviously God was directly controlling the Council of Nicea and every successful attempt to determine His Canon in every conceivable way or “our preaching is in vain and your faith is also vain.” So THIS Religion must be RIGHT, and *all* the others WRONG.

    (Later there’s a somewhat more nuanced view: that its ok to believe different things, as LONG as it’s a kind of blind faith. it’s a force that makes me suspect we would get an openly gay President before an openly Atheistic one. Which is kind of the opposite view of “if there is a serious flaw – I need to be willing to change it” — too much religion starts with the postulate that the holy book and the tradition is absoutely right, and everything flows from that. )

    So I tend to dig the UU church, that views every religion and even no religion as a spiritual quest, one that will never find a universal certainty for everyone.

    I also like the view of the lefty Christian blogger Slacktivist: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/ . (Along with his terrific deep reading of “Left Behind”, pointing out what terrible, a-Biblical poorly written slush-pile fodder it is) If I had more of his kind of feeling that Christianity could be so much less dogmatic when I was younger, I’d be less far from the fold today.

    • There are many Christians now who do their best to be unreligious (if not “anti-religious”) because of the things you’ve pointed out, Kirk. Tradition is valuable, but it can become difficult to know the difference between it and what the Bible actually says. Blind faith is actually weak because those people give up the responsibility to figure out the truth for themselves.

      As you might expect, I believe that Jesus is the only way to God. But since the post-modern in me hasn’t been willing to stake my spirituality just on what my forefathers (or even the denomination of my upbringing) have said, I’m able to say that my faith is truly mine. As a result, I’ve changed quite a bit about what I believe in the past few years. It’s been a trip.

      Thanks again, Kirk. It’s truly an honor to interact with you in this way.

      • Well, I appreciate your cordial manner, and your willingness to bounce ideas around a bit.

        I still think there’s a crucial layer in the “what the Bible actually says” and “Tradition” divide, which is just how literally the Bible should be accepted.

        I think the Catholic/Protestant divide is interesting in this one; my understanding is a lot of Protestantism is a “return to the Bible”, and always favoring that reading over Tradition. Again according to my understanding, Catholics stress the living and fairly continuous connection of God and the Church, was a bit more singular for much of its life. (Well not counting that whole Orthodox spin off thing… I probably dig the Orthodox tradition more than the Catholic)

        But still, I think only a small percentage of Christians think about the process that went into assembling the Bible as they know it. I mean sometimes they might run into the concept of the Gnostic Gospels or the Apocrypha, or hear someone who worries too much modern thought has corrupted the NIV vs the KJV or whatever… the underlying assumption has to be God was goalkeeping the process every step of the way.

        But still, you wonder, or at least I wonder. Apparently there are a lot of would be Holy Books that didn’t get such protection. That seems like pretty heavy duty trickery by the devil for God to let happen.

      • Have you read Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”? He writes as a lawyer, not a Theologian. So he addresses many of the questions from a lay perspective that aren’t readily answered (or asked) in churches about the reliability of the Bible.

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