Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Offense of Certainty

"Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands."
--Gregory of Nyssa

The other night, The Larry King Live show did a program featuring a sampling of Time Magazines 25 most influential evangelicals. I missed the program b/c I didn't know about it until the next day, but I did read the transcript. I was really interested b/c of the diverse pannel King was interviewing: Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Franklin Graham, T.D. Jakes, and Brian McLaren. As I read, I found that I was repulsed by Tim LaHaye's comments, not so much because of their content (I can disagree without being repulsed) but because of their arrogant certainty (and I'm a believer....imagine how an unbeliever would respond.) His wife Beverly came off better (in my opinion) athough she suffered from the same attitude. I think Graham was a little too preachy, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did for the most part (the fact that I was surprised reveals my own unfair bias and prejudice I suppose). But, I was ecstatic about how the Gospel was represented by T.D Jakes and Brian McLaren. They were able to discuss their beliefs and opinions with both humility and compassion. I wasn't the only one who noticed either. toward the end of the program, King accepted questions from callers to members of the pannel. One caller said " I would like to preface my comment to Mrs. LaHaye by saying that I highly respect Reverend Jakes and Mr. McLaren because they seem to be the most compassionate, understanding and open-minded of the evangelicals" Humility (open mindedness) and Compassion...they are marks of Jesus and consequently marks of those who follow in His Way.
I wonder if it's offensive to God when we speak with such certainty about Him or when we speak with such "authority" about things related to Him. I know for a fact I don't agree with McLaren and Jakes on a number of doctrinal issues. Even so, I'll follow them as they follow Jesus any day. What violence have we done to scripture and to God's dream when we reduce it to little iron-clad formulas? What damage have we done to the Way when we reduce the Gospel to steps one follows so that God has to take them? Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.


Brandon Scott Thomas said...

So true. But isn't that the way of mankind over the course of history? God wanted us to love HIm and follow Him and man wanted a king. So He gave them a king. Then the ten commandments and the law--which we could not follow. What Jesus brought completely boggles the mind because in many ways it's not formulaic. To sum up--it seems to me that matters of the heart and life are much less tangible than coloring things in pure black and white. But, as it has for thousands of years, God's colors will prevail and show themselves even through the hundreds of coats of black and white that we paint.

Thanks for this today.

Fajita said...

Violence to scripture. Yes, that is what it is. Cutting and pasting proof-texts, decontextualizing snippets of scripture to advance an agenda, and then eradicating the mystery of God by pronouncing certainty where there was never meant to be certainty. There is something utterly sinful in demystifying scripture into a collection of directives for moral living.

God does not want moral people nearly as much as He wants people who love Him for the sake of the world.

Rick said...

i'm very impressed with the way that mclaren tends to deflect questions that would be controversial by asking that you rephrase them or rethink your position. and the gentlemanly way td jakes comes across is just so inviting, so non-judgmental. it's like both men trust Jesus to fill in the blanks, not themselves.

good stuff.

David U said...

Great post! I love to hear brother Jakes, and I am always blessed when I get to hear him. McLaren is amazing. What an impact he is having on all of us!

Thanks again,

Milton Stanley said...

Good stuff. I especially enjoyed your use of the quote from Gregory. I wrote about this post, by the way, on my blog. Peace.

tdurbs said...

I have (or can) sometimes get heated when I talk to people about my beliefs - especially when their's differ. But, later, I always find myself down about it...because I know that is not the way I should be acting. It is a constant "trouble" for me in not being able to speak with 100% (or even a smaller percentage for that matter) certainty on most things relating to God...but it also calms me in knowing that I might not have as many things wrong in my head as I worry. It's just another testament to God letting us know how much we should depend on Him - because we would (and will) never get it all.

Unknown said...

The only input I can ad to this is that their is a whole world heading for hell out there...If we could only see that just for a moment, we probably wouldn't care about such trival matters! Jesus did say if you are luke warm he would spew you out of his mouth correct? We { dedicated christians } are all on the same side, I really think we need to attack the enemy not each other! and leave the trivial differences alone and focus more on the real mission set before us. And that is to reach the world for Jesus Christ! www.EndComingSoon.Com