Kevin H: It’s Ok Not To Know It All

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106 Responses

  1. Cash says:

    There seems to be a thirst for humility amongst many in the church, which is a good thing. As the Lord said, if we humble ourselves, we shall be lifted up. Why are we drawn to those who are humble? What is it about them we find so attractive? What does it mean to be humble? I agree with you Kevin H that humility in our ministers is to be expected and lauded. But do we know what we are looking for? Perhaps humility is like that old saying, “I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you when I see it.” Excellent article that got me really thinking this morning.

  2. dswoager says:

    I recall several years back being part of group of guys that had a monthly preaching night, where we were given the opportunity to prepare and deliver a fifteen minute message and receive feedback.

    It was a valuable experience, and helped shape the way that I study. One downside was that they were pretty short on constructive criticism (and believe me if wasn’t because I was so good). One piece of (unfortunate) advice that I did receive was that “if I was 75 percent sure about something, I should preach it like I’m 100 percent sure”.

    It was unfortunate because it denies the reality that all of us wrestle with things, as you said above none of us are 100 percent on everything. I think that it is ok to offer each other building blocks, rather than pretend that we have fully finished structures.

    I think that being free to admit that we are 75 percent sure on things is the way that we eventually become 99 percent sure if things. Pretending we are 100 percent certain is actually a good way of ending up completely wrong.

  3. Steve Wright says:

    recall several years back being part of group of guys that had a monthly preaching night, where we were given the opportunity to prepare and deliver a fifteen minute message and receive feedback.
    ———————————————————-
    That is exactly what happens in seminary (at least at mine and I am sure at most). It also was a part of my School of Ministry experience at CCCM as well.

    Formal education for pastors should be the norm, not the exception. Even if there is not this aspect of critique in whatever homiletics class the student takes, there still is the fact that for 3 years or so the student will be handing in homework and expressing opinions on the Scripture to elders smarter than the student. Self-education, no matter how faithful and how good the books and sermons are one studies, can’t offer this.

    I am sure there is at least a partial connection to a lack of this experience with those pastors who think they know it all….

  4. Michael says:

    This is a complicated issue.

    People love certainty…in fact, these days I sometimes think they value certainty above truth.

    Truth requires the recognition of paradox, mystery, and nuance.

    Those are hard sells today.

    The other factor is brand driven.

    Every sect has it’s reason they left a broader sect…and they better preach those distinctive doctrines with certainty if they wish to stay in the group.

  5. Xenia says:

    Every sect has it’s reason they left a broader sect<<<<

    Except us.

  6. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I stand corrected…and if we had any Roman Catholics here, I’d have to do it again… 🙂

  7. Steve Wright says:

    Every sect has it’s reason they left a broader sect…and they better preach those distinctive doctrines with certainty if they wish to stay in the group.
    ——————————————————–
    CC certainly has distinctive doctrines that all agree with…but Chuck’s leaving the broader sect was not really doctrinal but “practical” or philosophy of ministry oriented. I don’t know of any doctrine that CC was founded on that somehow was not already out there pretty loudly…

  8. Michael says:

    I used to teach with a great deal of certainty…now it’s more about being certain of a few things and seeing possibilities in most others.

  9. Em says:

    reading this good thesis reminds me that even our Lord’s disciples were puzzled at times – they were listening with respect, but questioning, too… of course, they did not yet know that it was God that they were talking with, did they?

    that said, it is my opinion that God designed the Bible in layers as it were… the more we see, the more we’ll see the next time…
    we need to recognize our own treacherous egos when we do so… was what i read strengthening me – edifying – or do i feel a little smug because i think my understanding is “special?”

  10. dswoager says:

    Steve Wright, I think that at least in a less formal way we would do well to incorporate this type of teaching within our congregations as a whole. You end up with two types of issues with the way that many teach.

    You get a lot of people who uncritically accept whatever is taught to them.

    On the other hand…

    You can also get people who can develope some pretty whacky ideas on their own studies because they don’t have enough of a voice to be corrected of them.

    I’m actually very thankful to have some guys in my life who both know more than me, but are open enough to consider some of the whacky stuff that I might come up with. The ability to just come together regularly and bounce stuff off of each other has been extremely edifying.

  11. Michael says:

    First off, not all CC’s agree with all those distinctive doctrines…there is a lot of private wresting over many of them.

    I was thinking more about the traditional denominations…a LCMS Lutheran couldn’t explore a Calvinistic view of the Supper out loud because the confession of the church speaks with certainty to this matter.

    Certainty can kill learning and growth…but confessional churches don’t believe growth is necessary.

  12. Michael says:

    Em,

    I think it’s critically important to stay open to correction by others.

    Sometimes, I think I see something radical in a passage…but if I check twenty commentaries and no one else sees the same thing, I assume I’m wrong. 🙂

  13. Xenia says:

    The “Who left who” question is what keeps EO and RC discussion forums humming.

    We say the RC, because of their innovations (Filioque, papal supremacy, etc.) left us.

    They say we left them.

    In truth, we just parted ways, for some very non-trivial reasons. I would say the increasing claims by the Pope of universal authority is the main reason behind the Schism of 1054.

    But I think both groups can say we did not depart from a broader group to go off and do our own thing.

  14. Xenia says:

    Certainty can kill learning and growth<<<<

    And it can nip heresy in the bud.

    (Not calling anyone here a heretic, just speaking in general.)

  15. Steve Wright says:

    dswoager,

    A lot depends on the venue. In smaller group studies the chance for the passage to be debated and discussed after the teaching is valuable (and we seek that). On the other hand, the Sunday sermon should not have a Q&A portion – rather the pastor ought to know what he is talking about and teach it with authority, and he can model for the congregation when a passage has a couple of legit takes how not to be overly dogmatic.

  16. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I concur with # 14…

  17. Michael says:

    “On the other hand, the Sunday sermon should not have a Q&A portion”

    I’ve never taught a sermon where there wasn’t a Q & A…and God willing, I’ll never have to.

  18. Papias says:

    “On the other hand, the Sunday sermon should not have a Q&A portion”

    (my idolatry is going to show here….)

    From the Lectures “Preaching Christ in a Post Modern World”, Tim Keller mentions that he has a QA session after his Sunday AM service, and has good reasons for it, if I remember correctly.

    Not sure if he still does though…

  19. Xenia says:

    Our priest eats a meal with us all after Liturgy and this is when we can ask him questions.

  20. Steve Wright says:

    Good grief. I am not talking about taking questions AFTER the service.

    Is there really an argument that on Sunday morning people ought to be able to raise their hands DURING the teaching of God’s word and throw in their two cents on the passage?

  21. Steve Wright says:

    Our priest eats a meal with us all after Liturgy and this is when we can ask him questions.
    —————————————-
    Exactly.

  22. Josh the Baptist says:

    With a small enough congregation, that could be a possibility.

  23. Josh the Baptist says:

    While obviously no one knows everything, and we all could heed the admonishment to stop pretending to know things we don’t, I do think preaching, in particular, has to come from some place of certainty.

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael,

    “I was thinking more about the traditional denominations…a LCMS Lutheran couldn’t explore a Calvinistic view of the Supper out loud because the confession of the church speaks with certainty to this matter.”

    I would take issue with the last phrase (the confession of the church speaks with certainty to this matter.”) and would say the confession speaks biblically to this matter … and that in itself would keep you from exploring the Calvinist view.

    And that doesn’t need to be a Lutheran / Calvinism thing – it could be any difference.

    I don’t like to play the uncertainty game where all views could be equally true and I have just landed here. Certainty comes from a genuine place. If I were to rate it, I would say that I am certain on 90% of what I know (note the difference from all things because there are many things I do not know, like where is the cloud?) and the other 10% I am sure I am going in the right direction but there are openings for correction.

    When I teach an area of conflicting views, I will present the other views the best I can – but I never leave it open for my class to think it is just a buffet of ideas. I will always conclude with, this position is correct and the others are wrong.

  25. Pastor Al says:

    Or rather, they in fact do not know much and should be more humble, but they aren’t, they are like Steve Wright and act like know-it-alls and are idiots in general and not very knowledgable at all about other-than-their-little-box.

    Pastors, Gurus, etc, most don’t know very much, practice it even less.

  26. Jean says:

    “This is a complicated issue.”

    I agree. One the one hand we too often major in the minors, but on the other hand have been commanded to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” So then the question is “What is dogma?” There’s doctrine that must be guarded (a hill to die on as Michael sometimes says); but there are other practices that might be considered adiaphora.

  27. Em says:

    #s 14 and 16 … this is important

    i think most people get into trouble when we elevate a teacher – or a preacher – above the dogma
    the teacher that solidified so much sound doctrine for me had a very strong personality that seemed to create a large group who identified with him … i think when we identify with a teacher, whether we realize it or not, we’re going to church for the show and we’re immediately on shaky ground at best …
    perhaps, a question would be, when someone asks you if you believe in a god and you answer, “Yes, i’m a Presbyterian” rather than “Yes, i’m a Christian.” it’s time for some reflection? – dunno – just thinking…

  28. Michael says:

    “Is there really an argument that on Sunday morning people ought to be able to raise their hands DURING the teaching of God’s word and throw in their two cents on the passage?”

    Yes.

    In fact, it is often when someone in our group asks a question, that the greatest clarity is achieved for everyone.

  29. Em says:

    MLD, the cloud is in Quincy Washington and a part of it was on the ocean bottom here recently 🙂

  30. Em says:

    #28 – that statement makes the case for house churches…

  31. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I think the hills to die on are contained in the ancient creeds.
    They are few in number.

  32. Michael says:

    Em,

    Obviously, I’m a proponent of house churches.

    The only other thing that might accomplish the same thing are adult Sunday Schools that few have anymore.

    I think participation in the whole service is needful to engage everyone and keep it from being little more than a religious lecture.

  33. Xenia says:

    One problem I could envision with a Q and A would be a contentious person in the congregation asking the pastor “gotcha” questions. There are a lot of people who want to prove they are smarter than the pastor.

    I know of two Calvary Chapels where the pastors had to endure people in the room shouting out their disagreements during the sermon. No one should have to put up with this except in extreme circumstances.

  34. Steve Wright says:

    I taught a home Bible study, as an ordained pastor, for several years where the people saw me as their pastor and which eventually made the jump to a church plant.

    I now pastor a church with four services on Sunday, a set time allowed for each service (and time in between for questions, prayer, socialization) with hundreds of people each Sunday.

    There is a difference in the two.

  35. Jean says:

    The creeds are no doubt important, and I say one (they rotate) every week. However, they came about to resolve doctrinal disputes. Therefore, their scope does not cover later disputes on doctrines that are no less critical to Christians.

  36. Michael says:

    “I taught a home Bible study, as an ordained pastor, for several years where the people saw me as their pastor and which eventually made the jump to a church plant.”

    I teach a “home bible study” and have no desire to plant anything as it’s as much a church as any other.

    Last time I checked the early church met in homes and didn’t have to buy a building to be considered a “church”.

  37. Xenia says:

    Happy Ash Wednesday, MLD.

    Orthodox Pascha (Easter) is very late this year. Lent’s nearly a month off for us.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I should clarify that I am 90% certain about what I teach.
    If I don’t know what I am talking about – I don’t teach it.

    Does anyone here really ‘teach’ on what you are not certain of? Not just mention, in a reading passage, but actually teach it… and still remain uncertain?

  39. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t think Steve would discount the validity of a home church, but the difference is in the size and familial aspect of the larger congregation. I lead discussions with my Sunday School class of about 12 adults, and it works great. However, in the larger sevice with 150-200, you just can’t do it.

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’ve got to say, our schedule took us through Song of Solomon last year, and I was very uncertain in teaching it. Made ti really brief and moved on.

  41. Jean says:

    Lutherans believe they are receiving Christ and the Spirit in the sermon. We sit there like Mary at His feet to receive his gifts of faith, life and illumination. Questions should wait for another venue.

  42. Xenia says:

    And happy Ash Wednesday to Jean, too!

  43. Jean says:

    Thanks Xenia!

    So, to ash or not to ash, that is the question. This will be my first Ash Wednesday as a Lutheran. Ashes are optional at our service. Should I avail myself or not this evening?

    What are the thoughts here?

  44. Steve Wright says:

    Xenia @33.

    When I showed up and eventually was asked to teach the midweek there was a tradition of the service not being a message but basically a “So what do you all think about this passage?” So I continued the tradition to some degree, giving a short teaching on the passage (after lots of study) and then opening it up and there were certainly a couple folks like that and then the challenge is to be gracious and somehow corrective at the same time or else leave the congregation thinking like Alex continually repeats that the Bible can mean anything one wants it to mean and that one person’s view is equally as legitimate as another’s no matter how wrong they are.

    And the fact is that over time, as I began to be more known among the people and they used to my teaching and the study I brought to the message (both that week’s prep as well as the years of study, seminary etc. beforehand) that many people came up to me and said, Look, we want to hear you teach us and not listen to these same yahoos argue with you.

    I reject to the fullest the idea that the majority of people coming to church are wanting to be passive spectators but rather believe that most people are coming in part because in addition to worship and fellowship they want to learn God’s word better and they trust me to teach them. I see it as they have their Bible’s open, they are making notes, highlighting, turning to the cross references. Then coming up after the service with questions, comments, maybe insights of their own to share…

    But hey, this is what I see from my CC experience. Maybe others have different experiences. I was once one of those people in the seats, eager to learn, wanting to hear from the pastor and not the guy sitting next to me…

    I am curious if there is anyone reading who goes to a Sunday morning church service (one open to the general public) that allows people to interrupt the message with their questions or comments. I have been to a lot of church services, and many of them were not CC and I have yet to see even one example of that in my life….so why that would be argued is beyond me.

    MLD, Xenia, Josh, Jean, Andrew, anyone? If I visited Sunday could I interrupt your pastor, and interrupt him a 2nd time, and then do so next week and so forth without being taken aside eventually by an usher or elder?

  45. Michael says:

    “Does anyone here really ‘teach’ on what you are not certain of?”

    Yes.

    On the doctrines that divide the church I preface a lot of teaching with “this is my best understanding today” and I try to teach why others believe differently.

    My folks find it very helpful to understand why others may believe in doctrines like infant baptism or the real presence…and it helps in tearing down the walls between the sects.

    About the only orthodox doctrine I really scoff at is pretrib stuff…and I try to be fair with that too.

  46. Steve Wright says:

    Thanks Josh @39

    I mentioned my past to show that A) I support and have experience with the home church and B) I also have the very different experience of the present day.

    Frankly, anyone who had a home church who did not encourage a discussion and give and take would be making an error in my opinion.

  47. Xenia says:

    Jean, go get those ashes!

  48. dswoager says:

    Josh the Baptist,

    The group that I sometimes meet with on Sundays had a teaching a few weeks back on Song of Solomon. I’m pretty sure 95% of what was taught was total hogwash.

    To their credit, they generally have a lengthy discussion group afterward.

    To my discredit, my schedule (and heck life in general) didn’t really allow me to dig into it in the way that I would have liked to, so I didn’t have anything to contribute to the contrary.

    Felt like garbage afterward.

  49. Michael says:

    “I am curious if there is anyone reading who goes to a Sunday morning church service (one open to the general public) that allows people to interrupt the message with their questions or comments. I have been to a lot of church services, and many of them were not CC and I have yet to see even one example of that in my life….so why that would be argued is beyond me.”

    Actually, I saw it modeled at a decent sized Foursquare church before I started teaching myself.

    When the pastor saw there was confusion or surprise at something he said he would allow people to ask for clarity and then he would address the concerns.

    There’s no need to take a vote…most churches don’t do this and we’re aware of that.

  50. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, I’m getting close to finishing going through the whole Bible at CCLE.

    I have been putting off Song of Solomon so far. 🙂

  51. Josh the Baptist says:

    Also, to be honest, even within my own small class, there are two people that come occasionally. When they show up, I have to lecture. If I even come up for breath, they will dominate the time with long, personal stories that aren’t even tangentially related to the text at hand.

  52. Michael says:

    There’s actually biblical precedent for what I’m saying…most churches don’t look like this either.
    Evidently, Corinth had more than one guy speaking…

    “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
    What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
    (1 Corinthians 14:24–33 ESV)

    “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in ord”
    (1 Corinthians 14:36–40 ESV)

  53. Xenia says:

    I think, with a book like the S of S, the best you can do is give a list of all the various theories and interpretations, give some good examples and problems with each view, maybe tell the people which one you like best, try not to be too titillating, and move on quickly to the next book.

    I went to a CC ladies’ retreat and listened in horror as an uneducated pastor’s wife from a small CC turned the S of S into some kind of erotic love affair between herself and Christ. Quite cringe-worthy. For more of this kind of thing, read some of the journals of medieval Catholic women, especially anchorites.

  54. Josh the Baptist says:

    If I taught Song of Solomon again, I would be better prepared. I would teach some version of the 3 character interpretation. I was ignorant of this view upon my first time through.

  55. Em says:

    well, the Song of Solomon inspired a romance novel that i wrote for my granddaughters some years back … taken a face value it is a strong teaching on virtue … IMHO

  56. dswoager says:

    It has to be difficult to shepherd a flock in a day and age when most of us have a cable that comes into our house that can deliver on demand wolves, and I can walk around with a pocket full of false teachers.

    A sermon may function to feed the sheep, but without open dialogue it is very difficult to discern which of them are being preyed on.

  57. covered says:

    Hey Michael, curious as to why you stopped at One Cor. Fourteen 33 and didn’t continue on to verse 34? Now that would be a lively thread! 🙂

  58. Michael says:

    Covered,

    I stopped there because that’s a whole different conversation…one we had a few weeks ago about egalitarianism.

  59. Steve Wright says:

    but without open dialogue it is very difficult to discern which of them are being preyed on.
    —————————————————-
    I understand what you are saying and why…but may I suggest that this is not the pastor’s job. Sure the wolves need to stay out of the actual fellowship but I do not feel it is my job to oversee what people listen to in their own homes.

    That is the role of the Holy Spirit and He does it well.

    If we teach the truth, people will recognize error. (The old counterfeit money illustration comes to mind here) because the Spirit will do His work.

    If the pastor spends much of his time “warning” people about who they should not listen to or read, I would say he is not doing his job.

  60. victorious says:

    Kevin H. Thanks for another great article that helps us all participate practically in the unity that Christ prayed for in he midst of our growing pains and gains .

    The article and the ensuing healthy discussion reminded me of a book I have been taking in slowly ; “Theology as Discipleship” by Keith L. Johnson.

    We all practice theologyand interact with theologians to varying degrees whether deliberately conscious of it or not .

    Pastors and bible study leaders do so during their preparatory period and ongoing education.

    They continue to do so in their ongoing sermon prep and then function as theologians during their delivery and interactions with those who hear them.

    With that in mind, hear are a couple of quotes that I think relate to the discussion at hand.

    “. . .  the practice of theology should be ordered around the goal of seeking God rather than finding him precisely because the act of seeking is what forms us to adopt the humble way of life that corresponds to the mind of Christ.”

    “As theologians, we follow Christ by thinking after Christ. He does not give us every answer, much like he did not tell the disciples where they were going. He just said, “Follow me.” And we do, thinking all along the way.

  61. victorious says:

    Ok two more quotes . One dealing with the concerns that today’s believer has about the practice of theology and another dealing with need for “certainty”

    “They worry that theology distracts us from the most important activities of the Christian life by inhibiting rather than enabling our discipleship to Jesus Christ. The discipline either undermines our faith by raising questions we cannot answer or leads us away from obedience by making us overconfident and contentious. The result is a divided church full of theological partisans who have ceased to focus on Jesus and instead serve their own interests.”

    “We do not have the burden of figuring out everything there is to know or answering every question. Our job is to think about God as best we can and then share what we have learned with others. To pursue theology in this way is to believe that our practice of theology is a form of communion with God as much as it is about acquiring new insights and information.”

  62. dswoager says:

    Steve, I’m not talking about warning people what not to listen to, but to find out what people are listening to.

    If a wolf is chowing down on some sheep, it is a poor excuse for their shepherd to say that they were out of his eyesight, so it’s not his responsibility.

  63. Dan from georgia says:

    It’s refreshing when a believer, especially a leader and/or pastor, says they don’t know it all or don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I think that because the Bible says to have an answer for everyone who asks, that we somehow think we have to know it all, and because we are Christians that we automatically are right about everything we say. An example I see online is people writing about the controversial topic of climate change as if they are a scientist and they understand all the nuances of science, stats, and advanced mathematics, did the research, and wrote the books and papers. In stating this I understand that I open myself up to flaming from those who like to argue, but my intention is not to argue here, but just to provide an example.

  64. Steve Wright says:

    If a wolf is chowing down on some sheep, it is a poor excuse for their shepherd to say that they were out of his eyesight, so it’s not his responsibility.
    ———————————————————-
    That’s not what I am saying. But then again, my definition of a “wolf” is quite narrow and certainly narrower than most. (Not to mention what “chowing down” might mean 🙂 )

    My experience is that I have had several people over the years ask me about something they heard from some co-worker or on TV because they discerned something just was not right – but maybe not knowing what? I can affirm they are discerning and explain in more detail the error of whatever it is bothered them.

    A lot of this also stems from my view on the security of God’s people and my recognition that God’s people are GOD’S people and not mine.

    So if an MLD sits under my teaching and studies Lutheran doctrine on the side and eventually leaves to join a Lutheran church, then God bless him. If someone says that something they heard from Osteen or Meyers was used by God to minister to them, then so be it.

    The pastor has the privilege and responsibility of being the most direct, consistent, teacher of God’s word in a person’s life who goes to that church. Some book or TV program can’t compare to that.

    Now, the thing is if a pastor really did feel this was his duty, then he would also have the obligation to proactively investigate everything everyone in the congregation is listening to on the side – one could not just wait for it to come up in a Q&A session. And there are a couple pastors who do that – warn people not to listen to others, by name.

    Teaching the truth also allows for plenty of opportunities to mention some common errors that are out there and clearly refute them (i.e. God wants everyone rich and healthy)

  65. Steve Wright says:

    I just taught on John the Baptist saying Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. I explained that you can find great theologians splitting on whether the fire is a contrast (hell) or a compliment (Acts 2) – which of course are two very different ends of the spectrum.

    So I joked, flip a coin and move on 🙂 but then elaborated on the real focus of the line being the emphasis on the Holy Spirit….not the fire.

    Those sorts of things happen a lot when you go verse by verse and try to explain them all…lots of “coin flip” passages knowing you are in good company wherever you land.

  66. dswoager says:

    Steve, I think back to what Michael quoted from 1 Corinthians 14 earlier. If we truly assembled in the way that seems to be describing, it would become apparent very quickly when people were being led astray. In the model that many use currently, there is very little opportunity to contribute in much of any way whether it would be to give light to truth or reveal error.

    When I read through the seven letters to the seven ekklesia in Revelation, there is a fair amount of real estate dedicated to false teaching, so I think that people may be more susceptible to these things than you may believe.

  67. Steve Wright says:

    A couple things…first, remember there was no New Testament completed when the warnings within the New Testament about false teaching were given. Once more, the power in teaching through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter, is an incredible thing, and wonderful blessing we enjoy. There is power in the word of God.

    Second, I in no way am discounting the value (as I have repeatedly said) in small group settings that look a lot like what was taking place in Corinth..except women can ask questions too. 🙂

  68. Steve Wright says:

    Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there’s a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet.
    —————————————————–
    The above is taken from the Didache and made a lot of sense for the time in which it was written and for the church that was then in existence.

    Today, we need no such test.

    Other examples could be given and I think the New Testament warnings need to be remembered in that context (i.e. pre-New Testament completion)

  69. …just thought I’d pop in and share something cool from a guy & gal I admire.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/0d3e71b3a21b15de90e9bb06dfd3c913/tumblr_o2cch4B9nA1sh491mo1_1280.jpg

    Keep calm & carry on

  70. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Good statement from Obama if indeed true and not just an internet meme.

    However, the encouraging thing is we know this didn’t come from the pen of his new spiritual advisory Rachel Held Evans.

  71. dswoager says:

    “A couple things…first, remember there was no New Testament completed when the warnings within the New Testament about false teaching were given. Once more, the power in teaching through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter, is an incredible thing, and wonderful blessing we enjoy. There is power in the word of God.”

    I think their are two sides to this though. Sure we have the added tools of the revelations of the New Testament, which give us additional solid ground to judge error against, but there is no shortage of people who have latched onto those same scriptures in order to manipulate God’s people.

    I appreciate the dialogue, Steve. I’m going to have to check out for the evening.

  72. Mr Jesperson says:

    I really appreciated this article. I have been heavily online with comments and blogs for almost a year. I have seen way too many people who were way too certain of things that are far less than crystal clear, scripturally speaking. Too little listening (pride is a big culprit there) and not enough effort given to understanding what people are trying to say. It is very common for people to talk at each other and completely misunderstand each other. I also seen my fair share of people who refused to admit that they are ever wrong.
    Recently with the whole saga going on between the two separated Iranian immigrants, I looked over at a different blog where the blog moderator was going to town on every member of the opposite sex who expressed any view or comment even slightly different than their own. It made my view of that blog go down a couple of notches because the irate moderator was angry and had thrown half of the fruits of the Spirit out the window. They had to express outrage and could not hold a reasonable discussion. Does anyone like a moderator Nazi? I said nothing there because there was no point. She was right, damn it, and you had better shut up if you have any question and points outside of her narrow emotionally charged outraged view. She destroyed the comment content on her own site for that topic. I found the conversation here to be much more reasonable by most of the people. I am really glad Michael does not moderate here in that way.
    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to Michael here and to anyone else who actually believes being slow to speak and quick to listen is something they should practice themselves and not a log to shove into someone elses eye. We commenters really do need to take what Kevin H has written here to heart. Lets show some strangers the love instead of the annoying I know it all attitude. How about a little more patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control? Know that I am preaching to myself here…

  73. Pastor Al says:

    Read the thread, I call b.s. once again.

    You don’t know for certain much of anything, yet you profess you do….then later you hedge, backtrack and claim “mystery”….that’s how it always ends.

    Most of you guys are a continual function of justifying why folks should follow you and listen to you and give you money and fill your seats.

    You talk out of both sides of your mouth.

    We can demonstrate that once again, if you’d like…..

  74. Pastor Al says:

    What are you “certain” about?

    Hit me with it and we’ll see….

    It’s a very very small pile.

  75. Michael says:

    Alex,

    We’re done now.
    This has been a great thread for this community.
    We all understand that you reject what most of us hold to in one way or another.
    We’re not going down this path…you have your own media you can express your views on.

  76. Xenia says:

    Most of you guys are a continual function of justifying why folks should follow you and listen to you and give you money and fill your seats<<<

    We don't need your money.
    We don't have any seats.

  77. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Totally off topic….
    I was directed to the work of an E.O. named David Bentley Hart.

    He is as hostile to Calvinism as any free will Baptist I’ve ever read.

    Is this open hostility the norm in Orthodoxy?

  78. Xenia says:

    Hi Michael,

    I haven’t read any of Hart’s books although The Atheist Delusion looks good.

    As for hostility… I would say the doctrines of Orthodoxy are hostile to the doctrines of Calvinism, and vice versa. We don’t accept any of the Five Points of Calvinism and some authors can be very vociferous. I would say of all the mainline Protestant doctrines, the Orthodox probably disagree with Calvinism the most. The two groups have very different ways of looking at God, fellow humans, and the world.

  79. Xenia says:

    I would add that excluding your own dear self, no group of people (online and offline) have been as hostile to me as an Orthodox Christian as Calvinists have been.

    The two groups are not very compatible.

  80. Michael says:

    That makes sense…I was shocked, to be honest.

    Some Calvinists have been hostile to me too… 🙂

  81. Xenia says:

    You have probably encountered plenty of Protestant critiques of Calvinism but an Orthodox apologist will come at it from a completely different direction, challenging some of the very foundations of the Reformation.

  82. Michael says:

    I have lost writing contracts because I tolerate Lutherans and Orthodox and sometimes write of them approvingly.
    I sleep well anyway.

    Mr. Hart may be a capable theologian but he is a miserable historian…just bought his book and I’m shaking my head…

  83. Kevin H says:

    I have had very little time to be online today and am just catching up on this thread. (I’m in Atlanta this week for work where I have been able to escape the cold winter of Philadelphia and get to enjoy the 30 degrees and snow down here in the South instead. 🙂 )

    I haven’t been able to read through all of the thread but I’m glad to see that it seemed to have sparked some decent conversation, at least from what I’ve gathered so far. My point in writing this article was not to lay out what all exact things we should be certain about and what things we shouldn’t be. But rather to challenge us about our attitudes and approach that can sometimes take on the know-it-all aura. Because we just can’t know it all. And we deceive ourselves and attempt to deceive others when we act and speak like we do. Yes, we must have certainty about some things or else our Christian faith ain’t worth anything. But at the same time we must remember that we see through that glass darkly. And so when we carry ourselves like we know it all, and then also condescend to all the others who have it “wrong” on any and every particular manner, then we’ve got a problem.

  84. Em says:

    it is interesting, however, that several of the folks who post here are sure that their beliefs or lack of same are right, right down the line on every point…
    what makes Michael’s site here so neat is that we all respect each other’s right to be … wrong 🙂
    and the old parable of the blind men and the elephant is not so wrong even tho some here say that it does not apply… perhaps a better application might be that we all see the elephant, but we only see it from where we’ve planted our feet/faith aaand God is a very big elephant (sorry, Lord… i do know that You’re not a pachyderm of any sort)
    i can listen to Steve Brown and be blessed because he gets what God’s grace is and yet he gets where the cut-off point is also and that seems to be a rare insight among teachers IMV, but that does not make me a follower of him…
    there a nuggets spoken by every poster here and even if the threads get a little tedious at times, i always come away at the end of the day blessed by the honesty and the love of God
    i KNOW that God does resist the proud and give grace to the humble from more personal experience than i like to own … how He resists you depends on where you are in the first place … and maybe where you’re trying to get to? dunno

  85. Em says:

    forgot to say

    God keep all close and comforted tonight

  86. Jean says:

    “i can listen to Steve Brown and be blessed because he gets what God’s grace is and yet he gets where the cut-off point is”

    Em,
    This isn’t a set up question, but I am interested in what you mean by “cut-off point”? Are you referring to the length of the sermon or something he said? If the latter, what was that? Thanks.

  87. Em says:

    Jean, grace and faith go hand in hand … God knows hearts, so i wouldn’t presume to say when the cut-off point is; only that there is one – it isn’t arbitrary or random … there is faith germinating in a searching heart as there is in a confused one … only God really knows our hearts … that said, one cut off point is clear and that is the disrespect/denial of Jesus Christ and His gospel

    lol – very few pastors know where the cut-off point in their sermons are

    God keep

  88. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I love how folks are so certain that you cannot be certain.

  89. Pastor Al says:

    “I love how folks are so certain that you cannot be certain.”

    Are you certain?

  90. Pastor Al says:

    It’s all you flapping your cyber-lips until it gets to specifics.

  91. Josh the Baptist says:

    That was kind of the point of Kevin’s article, right? That there is a bunch of stuff we aren’t certain about.

  92. Kevin H says:

    Josh, you’re right. The point was that there are things we are uncertain about and to speak otherwise is foolish and deceitful. Now the point also wasn’t to start making exact lists specifically listing the things we are certain about and those that we aren’t. If Michael wants to do an article on that, then he can. I’m not doing it. But my article was to address the need for us to recognize and admit we have uncertainties and our attitudes in how we relate to ourselves and others about such matters.

  93. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yeah, this one went well, I think. You never know for sure what direction the discussions will take, and sometimes someone shows up and demands that it go in a different direction, but I think this one stayed pretty well on course.

    My slightest push-back – as one who preaches only around 10 times a year – was that preaching / as opposed to teaching, sort of has to come from a place of certainty. It may be the smallest nugget that you are certain of, but that is kind of where the sermon then has to dwell.

  94. dswoager says:

    Josh the Baptist, I think that much of what we might refer to as preaching is teaching that includes a proclamation of the gospel.

    The teaching can remain humble, while the preaching of the gospel can be bold, and certain. The key likely being the knowledge of where one begins and the other ends.

    If you start preaching your teaching, you risk muddying the waters of the pure proclamation of the gospel.

  95. Em says:

    MLD, you love how folks are so certain that they can’t be certain? … i am so certain that God is Who He has revealed Himself to be that my whole life for the past 65 years has centered around that certainty… i am certain of the way to it, but i am not the gate keeper of God’s house – i don’t chose who goes thru
    yeah, i know… if i say the right things and do the right things, i’m in… trouble is only God knows the heart, i can only presume to discern much of the heart of another’s soul

  96. Josh the Baptist says:

    Much truth there, dswoager.

    I’m not sure this is what you meant, but I would not say that certainty and humility are opposites. In fact, I think the core things that we are certain about should drive us to even more humility.

  97. Em says:

    #95 i am certain those are good words 🙂

  98. Jean says:

    A lot of “uncertainty” arises for two reasons:

    (1) People ask the Bible to answer questions that are not addressed in the Bible?

    (2) People speculate about God outside of how and where he revealed himself to us. That is the feeble human attempt (misusing reason and logic) of trying to ascend to God. Sometimes we even try to subject God to a higher law: God can’t do such and such, because… or God must do such and such because….

    God said this of his Son: “listen to him”.

    The mother of God said this of her Son: “Do whatever he tells you.”

    You can be certain of that.

  99. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Deuteronomy 29:29 says,
    “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

    So most issues of uncertainty arise from trying to understand what has not been revealed – those belong to God.
    1.) why some and not others?

    But the things revealed are for us to definitely understand … but we stop where the Bible stops.
    1.) This is my body — STOP
    2.) Baptism saves — STOP

  100. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean – the mother of God??? What are you, some type of Roman Catholic or something?? 😉

  101. Josh the Baptist says:

    He’s a Newtheran.

  102. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – “He’s a Newtheran.” – that’s a good one. Perhaps I can coin that in the LCMS for our catechumes – 🙂

  103. Kevin H says:

    Josh,

    I generally agree with you about the preaching. I don’t want a pastor who is regularly wishy-washy about everything. Especially in any regards to the Gospel.

    But at the same, there are bound to be at times when the preacher covers a verse or passage or topic where they have some uncertainty and/or there are multiple orthodox views within orthodox Christianity. Especially for those churches/pastors that teach verse-by-verse. In those circumstances, I want humility and honesty rather than someone who tries to speak in an authoritative fashion and act as if they have all the answers. Admit that this is your best but that you’re still seeing through a glass darkly. Admit that there are various acceptable orthodox views. Sure, explain why you think the one view is best, but still admit if you’re not certain. Do this rather than act as if there are no other legitimate options out there or if you do mention them, you just dismiss them with a condescending wave of the hand.

    One other caveat, if you notice from my original article, I also spoke to how pastors carry themselves even in personal communication. I didn’t want to make it only about what is said from the pulpit.

  104. Josh the Baptist says:

    Use it, MLD. You don’t even have to give me credit 🙂

  105. Josh the Baptist says:

    Yep, Kevin I agree.

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