Friday, October 16, 2009

Doubt Your Doubt and Cling to What is True

Proverbs 14:7-8
“Go from the presence of a foolish man,
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit.”

I read this the other day and it made me think about some blog conversations I’ve seen and some of the current “conversations” going on in certain areas of evangelical Christianity, even among people I know in real life, today. It also reminded me of people I know who seem to question everything except the things they ought to question. For example, there is a movement in this postmodern world away from the notion of absolute truth to some amorphous view of relative truths. People who are being caught up in this thinking begin to question the plain things in scripture and try to make them seem more mysterious than they are, or just downright discount them altogether. In fact, with some people, it seems that the questioning and doubt are the end goal, not finding the answers to the questions. It’s enough to be ‘on the journey’ and it’s assumed that we need to rethink everything and question all assumptions – but instead of going to God’s word to check the assumptions, they go within their own selves, their opinions, the opinions of cool and hip emergent or postmodern pastors and writers. I don’t have a problem with examining assumptions and making sure that what I believe is really real. But the standard we use to judge that is God’s revealed word. There is an ultimate standard by which we can and ought to measure the truthfulness of our assumptions. To paraphrase a quote from John MacArthur that I have found helpful, “Doubt your doubts and cling to what is true, trust God’s word, trust what He has revealed to be true.”

Granted there is mystery in the Christian life – in Deuteronomy 29:29 it says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” But the end of that verse shows us that, though there are some things we are not to know in this life, there are things that are revealed. We can know what God has said to us. He spoke clearly through His word and by His Son. Rather than tickle our ears and excite our fallen imaginations by trying to reimagine the doctrines of the faith with all kinds of speculations and worldly wisdom, and rather than enjoying the ambiguity of doubt as an ideal, we ought to be about the business of knowing the things God has revealed and submitting to Him and His authority.

It is exhausting and frustrating to talk to someone who has gotten caught up in the postmodern way of thinking. It’s almost like doubt is a badge of honor and to be certain of anything is the only taboo. With some of these conversations, you finally get to a point where you wonder if the person isn’t actually asking the questions to resolve doubts or to come to a better understanding of God and His word, it really does seem in some cases that merely questioning is the goal, and that the better you are at questioning your assumptions, the less you need biblical answers, and the more ‘enlightened’ you are in this warped way of looking at things. In this postmodern age, to be uncertain is to be ‘tolerant’ or accepting of just about anything as long as it isn’t an insistence on absolutes. It’s filled with this arrogant humility that pretends that it is a darkened understanding or an arrogant person who can claim that there are absolute standards that are true. The Christian faith and the deep and serious things of God are treated like a big game where they deconstruct language and meaning and play around with words and ideas, or like some grand intellectual exercise where we are free to speculate whatever we want and the stakes aren’t very high – a form of godliness without power, something to play around with. It is frightening, however, because life is not a game and the stakes are actually very high. The fact is, there is truth, the Bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This isn’t a game. We aren’t free to change the meaning of words and free to determine our own “truth.” Ultimately, we are all bound by true truth, God’s truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life that sets us free to worship God in spirit and truth.

Later in the same chapter, I read this:

Proverbs 14:26-27
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.”

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. There is confidence in Him, yes, strong confidence. It is not arrogant to take God at His word. It is the beginning of wisdom. I would argue that the true arrogance is this false humility that questions everything and can never seem to come to a point where God’s word is good enough and sufficient to answer the doubts, always questioning, learning, but never coming to the truth. It’s a false humility that arrogantly seeks man’s opinion and tries to impose it upon God’s word by twisting it to say what we want it to say and twisting it to fit our fleshly lifestyles rather than seeking to know what it really means and submiting to the authority of our Creator God.

I have recently come to be very, very wary of certain Christian bookstores. Books filled with this pseudo-intellectual kind of questioning and subversive and subtle planting of seeds of doubt fill the shelves. I left one store in tears as I asked my husband where in the world was the discernment of the booksellers at that store after we had found some books aimed at young teens about dopplegangers. No, I didn’t read the books, so I don’t know how they attempted to Christianize that topic, but really? Isn’t there something better to offer kids? Really? And then they go on to read books by respected authors in the Christian book world who are peddling heresy, cleverly masked, but heresy all the same. The Shack, anyone??? Drew’s answer was, “It’s not about discernment, Beck. It’s all about money, marketing and what sells.” And that’s why I cried.

Too many of us would rather read books about the Bible than to read the Bible. We don’t have time for Bible study, but we gobble up Christian fiction and Christian (at least in name) authors and read opinions and allow subtle doubts to creep in, but too seldom do we know the Word itself. And please don’t take this as a rant against all Christian fiction or all Christian books in the bookstore. I have read some that aren’t all bad, and some that are actually pretty good, and some that are very good. It’s just all the weeds you have to sort through to find them that are so extremely troublesome. And they are troublesome because I actually know people who are being swept along in the current of ‘doubt is good,’ and who are swayed deeply by the postmodern/emergent “conversation,” and who are in danger of being led seriously astray while everyone pats themselves on the back and gloats about how clever they are.

Proverbs 14:12
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.”

P.S. As I was getting ready to post this, I happened to read the following quote from one of Drew’s friends on Facebook, and it is very fitting:

"Without 'absolutes' revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice, and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers." -- John Owen

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