Through The Looking Glass: Dr. Duane Arnold, PhD

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43 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    I lament (i.e., deep sorrow) over a lot of the backtracking which you have identified that our country is currently engaged in. Our external enemies must be overjoyed at what we’re self-inflicting. Maybe it was there all the time, but now is in the open.

    How elements in our country don’t even care what the Russians have pulled off (and are repeating here and abroad) is something no one could have imagined just a couple years ago. Can we do better? Do we deserve better? I really don’t know.

  2. Michael says:

    There was a day when I thrived on absolute certainty and it served me well as long as I didn’t think about the alternatives.

    Life has forced me to be certain about one thing only and that is the reality of Christ.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    #2 Jean

    What’s even worse is that both the first and second paragraphs could have been expanded almost ad infinitum…

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    #3 Michael


  5. Ron Larson says:

    How I resonate with this. I like many others on this journey, have had my “absolutes” and with it, as some have witnessed. had to deal with my victriolic posture. Things like baptism,. prophecy, tongues as a prayer language to name just three. In my local church I have been reading a couple of good books, The Drama of Scripture and You Can Change by Tim Chester. Both by God’s grace and my as I have been assigned to read the book of Romans this week are thankfully helping me to bow and recognize that all of what I am to be about, is to seek the simplicity of knowing and being known by Christ Himself. I often get far to concerned with so many distractions, so many religious hobby horses, and it has sapped my joy. One a side note..some may be surprised by this. I ordered a copy of Luther’s Galatians. I have read some quotes by someone I have struggle with examining because of some his character attributes that we all find a tad troubling.

  6. Michael says:

    Certainty was a life saver to me psychologically after getting kicked out of CC.
    Reformed theology had an answer to everything, even though it was always the same answer.

    God was sovereign in all things and all things were decree by Him for my good and His glory.

    Everything evil and tragic could be parsed through that filter and it made life bearable.

    Then the day came when I simply couldn’t intellectually accept that completely.

    I had to become comfortable with mystery.

    Anglicanism offered me a place where people were certain about Christ and allowed conversation and differing thoughts about the rest.

    I don’t try to convert anyone to my tribe…some people need certainty for a season or for life.

    God made other tribes for them…

  7. CostcoCal says:

    Michael, so which tribe do you think the Early Church would have fallen into? People like Peter, John, and Paul? Their writings seem so certain as I read them.

  8. Michael says:


    We don’t even agree on what we believe they were certain about…every tribe interprets some things differently.

    God help me should I try to place first century apostles into 21st century tribes…

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How certain should we be in our uncertainty? 🙂

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus and the Didache provided a pretty good picture of that “original” tribe…

  11. Michael says:


    Lutherans are very certain.
    That’s ok… I’m just not even close to being certain of much of what they are certain of.
    I’m still certain about the person and work of Christ.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “I’m still certain about the person and work of Christ.”

    Lutherans state that all theology is Christology – so we are right there with ya!

  13. Jean says:


    Lutherans do have a category called “paradox,” which some tribes are uncomfortable with. In addition, we have a doctrine of God’s hiddenness, according to which we do not speculate on matters that are not addressed in Scripture.

  14. Michael says:


    When I identified as Reformed, one of the big issues we had with Lutherans was over what was addressed in Scripture and what wasn’t.

    All of these conflicts are basically ways to defend our systematic theologies…instead of acknowledging that all systematic theologies have unsystematic pieces that have to be dealt with.

    I see value in both Lutheran and Reformed systematics,but I can’t affirm either with a full throat.

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Important to remember – Systematic Theology is indeed a “system”. Systems have faults and failures…

  16. filbertz says:

    certainty is both a luxury and a taskmaster. When one is convinced of something, certainty is great. Paul the apostle speaks of ‘each being convinced in his own mind…’ so certainty isn’t anti-biblical. On the other hand, the pressure to be certain of everything is a taskmaster which is harsh and unforgiving–and often leads to the very thing it seeks to eliminate–error. In my experience, certainty was typically misplaced and life has become a series of adjustments and accommodations. I remain certain of Christ, his death, burial and resurrection, and my future hope in Him. I have no certainty in man-found/made systems and struggle with the daily expression of the Church/churches. Reconciling what I know from scripture and what I know from experience is a daunting task.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    #17 filbertz

    Nicely said…

  18. Xenia says:

    Here’s the thing about certainty. Once you accept the teachings of your church, then you are freed up to go about the business of being a Christian. Always searching for the truth- a truth you many not ever accept as really the truth- is exhausting and time-consuming.

    When I was first converting to Orthodoxy, the Father J. told me there were going to be things I, as a former evangelical, was going to find hard to accept. I said it doesn’t matter, I accept it all. All I want is a place where I can confess my numerous sins and receive the Sacraments. I want to rest in Christ.

  19. Xenia says:

    Eastern Orthodoxy, it has been claimed, does not have a Systematic Theology.

    What it has is a constellation of beliefs that are true.

  20. Michael says:


    I can’t just accept anything without question.
    I can accept things without fully understanding them, such as how the sacraments are efficacious.

  21. filbertz says:

    It is interesting to me how another person’s certainty can cause reaction in me and others, typically if I am not in agreement. Certainty is like salt in a wound for someone who doesn’t share the conviction. I think that is a human dynamic that is little understood, but has rather significant consequences.

  22. Michael says:


    That’s a fascinating and true observation.

    There are some declarations of doctrine that send me through the roof before I can think about them…

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    As I said, there are some people for whom certainty is what their particular personality requires – it is sort of the polar opposite of a person counting to ten and saying, “I might be mistaken about this…” I am not, of course, speaking about our faith in Christ, but about the theological systems that surround that faith.

  24. Jean says:

    From Xenia’s #19,

    “Here’s the thing about certainty. Once you accept the teachings of your church, then you are freed up to go about the business of being a Christian. Always searching for the truth- a truth you many not ever accept as really the truth- is exhausting and time-consuming.”

    I share some of this, but have a different personal emphasis. For me converting to Lutheranism was about submission and unity.

    I saw a flaw in my personality which can be rebellious and experimental. I concluded that to enjoy Christ’s rest and Christian freedom, I needed to join a communion in which I was not in charge, doctrine wasn’t voted on or at the whim of the pastor, where I wasn’t going to walk in to church one Sunday and be surprised, and which was biblical and time proven (i.e., tradition).

    In addition, I wanted a communion unified under a common confession of faith. In this way, there may unfortunately be some degree of politics in church, but never around doctrine and practice – those are settled and enshrined in the church’s by-laws. A pastor would be removed immediately if he diverged from the Lutheran Confessions This has provided me rest and freedom to live my Christian life with confidence and hope.

  25. Babylon’s Dread says:

    We earnestly seek God who says by the mouth of his prophets and his son that he can be found. So we have various iterations of our expressed pursuits.

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    I should say somewhere in this thread that given the quotation that I used to start the article, I am SHOCKED… SHOCKED… that Michael used my normal graphic instead of a grinning Cheshire Cat! I mean, after all…

  27. Michael says:


    The thought crossed my mind… 🙂

  28. John 20:29 says:

    hmmm… as i read this it emphasizes how simple it is to believe in the gospel… Faith does not require a church, but it needs a church – a church should be a place to grow in it and serve…
    “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:12,13 KJV
    we’re living in a time where the popular and prevailing conclusion is that God and being saved are silly concepts… and we evangelicals-so-called are guilty of distorting both truths IMHHO … maybe we all are, more than we realize, tho
    amen to Pastor Dread’s #26… i have a long list of denominations to which i have belonged or fellowshipped in (we moved around a lot), where our family was nurtured and grew in the Faith – it is the congregation and the pastor who drew us in, not the dogma
    “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14 … one of the most terrifying things i can think of is to have been an egotistical or maybe a cowardly pastor who served men, catering to the times more than to the Truth, and then face God at the end of my days

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    #29 Em

    “… catering to the times more than to the Truth”

    There’s the issue…

  30. John 20:29 says:

    I doubt that the Apostle Paul, declaring he was all things to all men that he might save some, was saying that he’d compromise God’s norms and standards in either his words or his behavior – it takes some understanding and backbone to follow him in that declaration – so the question for me is, can every pastor and evangelist follow Paul’s. declaration? I’m thinking the answer is, no – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a calling and a ministry by any means…. dunno….

  31. Duane Arnold says:


    The truth of the Christian revelation is unchanging. The Church is prone “to go along to get along”. That, in my opinion, is what has brought us to this time and place. If we were simply to proclaim the Christ of Scripture, we might do better than trying to adapt to the shifting sands of culture.

  32. John 20:29 says:

    Interesting I just finished listening to Laura Ingram (please don’t tell Michael – sorry, Pastor Newnham) interviewing General Kelly.. It wasn’t the focus of the interview, but he made the comment that for most people in this country their first allegiance used to be to God and country was second… he said with regret that it isn’t that way anymore – is he correct? I think so…

  33. bob1 says:

    I can’t think of anyone I know who puts allegiance to our country ahead of God. What does that even mean, anyway?

    In fact, with all the distrust of ‘govmint” and our institutions, I think the danger is the opposite. .

    I don’t see how it’s wrong to give the proper respect to our institutions. One can easily do that without venerating them or ‘worshipping’ them (again, I have no idea what that even means).

  34. bob1 says:



    Do you remember the Hartford Appeal of 1976?

    The title of a book by the speakers was, “Against the World, for the World.”

    I think that captures well how the church should be, in a nutshell.

  35. John 20:29 says:

    bob1, my poor expression of what General Kelly said… he was lamenting the fact that we have few who put allegiance to God ahead of everything else… i listened to the program to hear the interview because from what i’ve seen so far, i think this man is a good man of balance and integrity… we need more like him

    but today we do seem to have a contingent of people who are trying to combine God and country as co-equal in our allegiance, don’t you think?

    “I don’t see how it’s wrong to give the proper respect to our institutions.” yes, i can agree with that and i think the general would also… with emphasis on ‘proper,’ eh?

  36. bob1 says:

    but today we do seem to have a contingent of people who are trying to combine God and country as co-equal in our allegiance, don’t you think?

    Yeah, that looks like a fine description of the current Religious Right — they seem to have a really tough time separating the 2 — I mean, God and country. They seem to idolize political power, as long as it’s their candidate, don’t you think?

  37. bob1 says:

    Oh, and I forgot but wanted to say — have a great rest of your day, and night!

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    #35 bob1

    Yes, I remember it well. Richard John Neuhaus (one of the editors) was still LCMS at that time working at an inner city church in New York (he became RC in the early 90s, I believe). I met him a couple years after the book containing the papers came out at a retreat center in Michigan. The papers in the book are still well worth reading. In my opinion, Neuhaus changed a bit after his conversion in terms of the “public square” aspect of the Church. You can see this reflected in some of his articles in ‘First Things’.

    I think part of our problem today is that although we still talk about “Church and Culture”, both of these terms lack a commonly understood meaning. When we say “The Church is…” what are we talking about – mainline? evangelicals? RCC? Similarly, we are facing a fractured culture. When we say “The Culture is…” what are we talking about – mainstream media? millennials? boomers? Hollywood?

    We may have to face the fact that we are a fractured church trying to figure out how to engage (or not) a fractured culture.

  39. Dan from Georgia says:

    My Cheshire Cat experience…lately I have been thinking about whether my wife and I will ever find a good, solid Church. Yes, I know the old saying about how a church will never be perfect as long as it’s populated by humans. Especially here in the Bible Belt, or at least my corner of it in western GA, it seems as though you can’t throw a rock without hitting an IFB church, churches that think you are in sin if you have depression, churches that try to sell you on the health and wealth gospel (especially sickening in that its geared towards the African-American community – see Creflo Dollar), etc. Been thinking if it would be better to find a “home”-based church, but then you have to deal with some people who think they are God’s gift to ministry, or big-headed leaders who think they are indispensable to the Kingdom.

    Basically we are going to stick with our current home church, despite the fact that the worship time is basically a rock-concert (annoying in my book – doesn’t need to be that loud).

    So we gaze through the looking glass in prayer that our Lord will guide us to where we fellowship and worship.

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    #40 Dan

    We’re all struggling with what should be easy – simply finding, as you say, “a good solid church”. I admire your commitment to your present home church as you continue to seek direction. Praying for you and your wife…

  41. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Duane! We appreciate the prayers from you and Dusty and others!

  42. John 20:29 says:

    #37 – bob1, yesterday was a grueling day (by God’s grace i don’t have too many of them these days) and, if i sounded patronizing or sarcastic, i’m sorry… 🙂
    i was just trying to stay cogent as i attempted to share General Kelly’s surprising comment from last night … i suspect the man is a good Roman Catholic of the old school and they did teach their kids to put God first – just in front of the Pope, i think

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