Of Theological Fox Holes and Machine Guns
When speaking about doctrine I notice that many are dug in and refuse to move even an inch from their theological fox holes. If they feel threatened they may even open fire and machine gun you with scripture bullets. Some believe that such actions amount to a “discussion” but it is really more of a defense of their intrenched position than anything else. They say they are open to new viewpoints but they are deluding themselves. The unfortunate truth is that many would rather kill or be killed than give up their present position.
I understand that many want to defend their faith if they feel under attack and it is not necessarily a bad thing to hold strong opinions. For me, at least, some of my beliefs are quite settled while others are more fluid and open to question. However, we must all continue to be open to further revelation and resist the urge to dig in so firmly that we become dogmatic.
People say “show me the scripture” and I will believe. What that really means is “go ahead, make my day” as they have a machine gun pointed at you. Pretending that they wish to compare scripture with scripture is a type of ruse they employ to seem open minded and reasonable while, in actual fact, they are not.
When iron sharpens iron both change and become better. That is what I am seeking when I discuss the scriptures with my brethren. If people are so set in their ways that they reject everything which differs from their theology how can we come into agreement unless I swing completely over to their view point?
Others can literally bury a discussion in scripture thinking that sheer volume of scripture quoted wins the day. Many times people quote whole sections of the Bible which have little or nothing to do with what they’re saying. What really convinces me that something is true is when my spirit leaps within me. It is like a light is turned on and I say to myself “wow, that is true!” Studying it out comes afterwards.
The question I am trying to answer is “what are we really accomplishing and what spirit are we of?” I suppose, in their view, they are defending the faith and standing up for God. However, and this may be difficult to accept, I know for a fact, that in certain areas, some are in error. I just don’t know how to reach them. Here is a truth,
“Many times peoples view of scripture is based on their doctrine rather than their doctrine being based upon the scripture.”
Just like looking through rose colored glasses tints everything you see, viewing scripture through dogma alters a persons perception until every scripture they read tends to prove what they assume. Thus, their doctrine overrides what is actually written.
The basic problem is, that despite adherence to Orthodox doctrinal views , much the church is languishing and many are suffering. The normative dogma that many insist must be true is what many in these sad circumstances cling too. Yet for all their doctrinal “rightness” things are not getting better. The body of Christ is not maturing to a place where they can navigate the things that are going to happen soon.
The commanders of various doctrinal fox holes never question what they are defending because they believe they are obeying orders from on high to do so. Even though their doctrine is not producing the expected results they never openly doubt it but rather say to those around them, “hold your position!”and “double your efforts!” Really, brothers and sisters, If you are going the wrong direction will going double the distance down the wrong path lead you to your desired destination? Women joke that men can never ask for directions. At some point, contrary to our nature, when we take a wrong turn we must humble ourselves and ask directions from Father too. We must allow His Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us” in to all truth or else we will remain lost.
The prevailing attitude for many is, “My doctrine can beat up your doctrine.” My heart is not to beat up anyone’s doctrine. This is not a zero sum game for me. My intent is not to make another believe everything I say but rather to find a way forward so that we can all cross over to the promised land together. Having had a foretaste of the next move of the Spirit I desperately want to go back over Jordan. but I cannot do so without the bulk of my brethren crossing over with me.
So, I don’t really know what to do with those who are dug in for the duration and willing to defend their fox hole to the last man. The word does not to convince them, the Spirit does not seem to soften them, and they get so defensive that I can’t get near them without being shot at. Many seem to have a bit of ability in the word, which is commendable, but it seems that they are so married to their way of looking at things that nothing I share can impact them in the slightest. They are hunkered down in their theological fox holes, peering out over their sand bags, and no amount of revelation is going to move them. Unless I come and sit in their fox hole with them it seems there can be little fellowship.
I am not into defending the faith but rather I want to explore and live the faith with others. I have come from a place where all I did is defend the faith and that was exhausting. I was just defending some doctrinal piece of ground where God used to be while He was off somewhere over the horizon. Finally, by His grace, I got out of my foxhole and I started to follow after Him. In order to do that I had to “change my position.” Changing the way I believed was really hard. I had to decide whether I would trust His Spirit or trust what “I” knew. Thankfully, I chose His Spirit and God began to straighten me out little by little. So I know from experience that leaving your fox hole, especially when you have been there a while and have it all arranged nicely, can be quite a unnerving. I promise you, though, it is well worth it.
In conclusion, to have a truly profitable doctrinal discussion it has to be done with an open mind where there can be movement on both sides. I am not married to my doctrine and I will change my viewpoint if I see that someone has a better explanation to offer. If we all can have this type of heart towards one another perhaps we can find new and exciting places in God to experience and mature together into the fullness and stature of His Son Jesus Christ.