At what level should Christians engage with things not mentioned in the Bible?

Monday Musings for September 20, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

In most evangelical churches, their statements of faith include what they believe about the Bible. Most say that it is “sufficient.” But the Bible does not teach everything, and it does not include everything… so we need to approach the term “sufficiency” with some caution. Even the Bible is not sufficient to explain what it is not designed to explain. So what do we mean by sufficient?

The Bible — like every other book that has ever existed — is limited in scope. So occasionally, a believer can feel in the lurch. But that’s okay. Although the Bible stands alone as God’s written word, it is part of a system — and you won’t harness its power until you use the extra-biblical entities that God designed to work with it.

First, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. He will never leave us in the lurch! Second, we have human agency. We are persons… who come equipped with bodies souls and spirits. Third, we have consciences to test for right and wrong. And fourth, we have intelligence… which among other things, helps us integrate our resources. So, how do we proceed?

Before we engage our energies, we must remember that Scripture is the touchstone for truth. So when we use our spiritual gifts — or any other gifts God gave us (… logic, common sense, wise friends…) — our solutions cannot go against what the Bible teaches or affirms.

Now, sometimes — despite our purest and most earnest efforts… we fail. The thing is, if we are proceeding in earnest, we can’t get into any “big” trouble. We can get into “little” trouble, though… especially when we play around in the gray areas of the Christian culture. I classify these troubles as little because they don’t impact any core doctrines of the faith. But — just as in our secular lives — it’s the “little” problems that take up all our time and energy!

Here’s my question: why is it that we Christians — people who believe in the same God, have been saved by the same Savior (Jesus Christ), who have the same indwelling Holy Spirit — and who read the same Bible… wind up on the opposite sides of so many social issues?

This is because every individual person is just that — an individual person. We have the same origins, purposes and Holy Spirit. But we also have human agency. God did not remove our wills after we were saved. In fact, he uses human agency to meet his objectives.

These processes are like those in a permanent magnet. A magnet is not magnetically monolithic. If you look at its domains closely, you will see that its poles are not all aligned. Some poles are random — and some are even opposite of the main polarity! But a magnet works because — as a whole — enough atoms are doing the right things the right way.

In like manner, the Church gets done what God wants to be done… despite everyone not pulling in the same direction. God advances his kingdom through the energies of free people… and free people can be random — even belligerent! But the last time I checked, everything was happening according to God’s plan and according to his timing.

 

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