The Word of God is a Dangerous Thing

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ReDiscovered Word

(Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God is a dangerous thing. 

You and I open it up, hoping to understand God, or maybe to find a little bit of inspiration to make it through another day.

When we open those pages, though, something else happens.

God’s Word opens us instead.

Living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, the Scripture cuts us to the core. The cuts are deep and painful, but redemptive at the same time.

Read it often enough, and we discover something unsettling: we cannot predict or control what God will say to us. And the changes He makes will be deep and painful. But they will also be right.

Our values will be turned upside down. Our self-righteousness will be shattered. Our plans for the future will change.

When we approach God’s Word with open ears and submissive hearts, we will be changed. 

Perhaps that is why so many keep His Word at arm’s length. It’s safer when it’s consumed in small doses at manageable times. It’s less frightening when we simply use it to satisfy our curiosity, or to justify our preconceptions. If we don’t get too close, it won’t open us up.

And that’s a safer approach. But it’s not a better approach.

It’s tragic, in fact, to have access to the very Word of God and yet to never allow it to do its work. Because when we let it transform us, we find something deeply satisfying: His way is better than ours.

Our old values need to be discarded. Our self-righteousness needs to be shattered. Our plans need to change.

His ways are infinitely better, but we resist them anyway. Still, his Word waits for us. Living and active, perfectly good, and powerful enough to change us.

If only we will let it. The process is painful, but the outcome is always good.

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C.S. Lewis, Inclusivism, and Scripture (Part 3)

This will be my final post in this little series. In his original question, Jordan asked how we are to respond to an author like C.S. Lewis, a brilliant man who happens to hold a view with which many evangelicals disagree.

I’m going to take the opportunity to briefly discuss how we ought to read in general, and how we ought to respond to points of disagreement.

First, read everything with discernment. Never assume that because an author is a Christian that you can therefore agree blindly with every point he or she makes. It’s extremely rare for me to find a book that I agree with in its entirety. The Bible is God’s Word; everything else is basically opinion, commentary, interpretation, or speculation on it. Whether the author is C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Francis Chan, or even Matt Morton (gasp!), read critically and compare everything to the Scripture.

Second, don’t be too afraid to read sources with conflicting theological views. One of the ways we grow is by reading and understanding the opinions of those who disagree with us as well as of those who agree. C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man and a wonderful writer. His books exalt the Person and character of Jesus and provide some excellent illustrations of the Gospel. I’ve learned a great deal from reading his works, even though I don’t agree with every point he makes. If you feel that reading a particular book will cause you to doubt God’s character or will lead you into sin, then of course don’t read it right now. But as you continue to grow in your faith, it helps to read from a wide variety of sources.

Third, recognize what is central to the faith and what is up for discussion. For example, the writings of Joseph Smith clearly deny the full deity of Christ — that’s heresy. A heretic is a person who holds beliefs that are outside the historical boundaries of Christianity. Usually that’s determined by looking at the universally accepted creeds, like the Nicene Creed, the Creed of Chalcedon, and the Apostle’s Creed. The deity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the Trinity are good examples of non-negotiable articles of the Faith. On the other hand, the specific mechanism by which faith operates to bring a person to salvation has not traditionally been a point of separation between believers and unbelievers. So while I strongly disagree with the perspective of inclusivism, I don’t call Lewis a heretic for holding it. I can say I think he’s wrong, but not that he’s heretical in the way that word is usually defined.

Finally, don’t be afraid to draw firm conclusions from the Scripture. Always express your opinions with grace and tact, but don’t shy away from speaking the truth as you read it in the Bible. Inclusivism and exclusivism cannot both be correct — somebody is right and somebody is wrong. That shouldn’t trouble us too much, since no human being has a full understanding of God’s Word or His character. The existence of differing viewpoints does not call into question God’s character, but instead highlights the limited capacities we have as human beings. So do not be afraid to carefully research, land on a position, and teach it graciously and firmly. (Just remember the third point in this post as you do so).

Question: How do you deal with the issue of Christians who disagree with your theology? Do you have any other suggestions?

[Image via goodreads.com]

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