Thursday, March 4, 2010

Avoiding absolutes . . .

I have been accused early and often as being opinionated. I rarely sit on the fence and almost compulsive in letting people know what I think. But when it comes to Biblical interpretation I avoid declaring absolutes which aren't clearly spelled out. Which can be problematic with my Christian brethren because the standard for "clearly spelled out" is a moving target to say the least.

I usually avoid these topics because it can cause strife with my fellow Christians who don't apply the same standard I apply to secondary theological issues. Many declare you lost or damned if you disagree on a peripheral issue. Usually because they have made it the cornerstone of their salvation foundation. I don't condemn (nor am I allowed to) anyone for disagreeing with me on a secondary issue. I may give them my opinion which they may mistake as such, but I try to do so with kindness and, more importantly, respect. Unfortunately, I'm not always afforded the same measure.

For instance: I don't speak in tongues. I have studied the issue and do not believe there is enough evidence to declare today's utterances the Biblical utterances. But hey, it's not absolute. I could be wrong. But since it's not absolute, I'd rather contract to essential Christian doctrine than expand beyond it. I do believe in the gift of tongues (languages) for the Apostles in preaching the Gospel because it is clearly spelled out.

Now, keep in mind, I don't hold anything against people who do speak in tongues. An acquaintance of mine once declared it demonic and strongly suggested I leave the church I was attending (and playing guitar in the worship band in the youth group for). I defended my tongue uttering friends by assuring this person that they believed in essential Christian doctrine and are definitely not demonic.

On the other hand, I've had tongue speakers declare that I'm not receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

This pastor of the aforementioned church who would declare God's presence in our church only if a majority of the congregation were speaking in tongues. It was not only a litmus test but a measuring stick. Sort of like a God decibel meter. This goes against "where two or more are gathered." Of course, you can always go non absolute and claim the Bible writers left out the inferred "where two or more are gathered (and speak in tongues.)"

Now I know that those who do speak in tongues may be able to give what they claim is an absolute interpretation of the issue to back their beliefs, but I don't see it. However, they are still my family in Christ and do not deserve to be denigrated.

Side question: Do you think someone who speaks in tongues would now be hesitant to buy my novel (if published)?

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