This was originally published May 1, 2010 on Facebook as a Note. But I publish it here, to help tell about my faith journey.
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There are three things that I have been told never to talk about money, politics and religion. Is it not the most ironic thing ever that I as a minister discuss the the most sqeamish and sensitive of these three every day of my life?
I have found myself in conversations about sin, transgression, theology, worship, discipleship, marriage, dating, and just about anything else you can think of. If the conversation has not yet happened, I am convinced that it will happen.
In my travels there is one thing I have learned there are two groups of people. The one group contains the individual who is truly asking questions for learning, seeking understanding, and knocking at the door of spiritual growth. The other group contains the individual who is truly out to prove that they have learned everything and seeks to prove they are correct.
The problem is that when I enter a conversation there seems to be no real way of knowing to which group the individual belongs. Herein the trap awaits. For you see, each person is genuine, and each is sincere in that which they do. As the conversation unfolds, one person will prove the conversation rewarding, the other person will not. But it seems that by the time I have figured out which group the individual belongs to my person feels tortured.
There should be a way to predetermine uf the conversation will prove beneficial to both. For you see, I too am a man on a journey of faith. Asking, Seeking, Knocking. Never believing that what I know today is the full answer. I prefer to engage those who feel similar to me – seekers. But not all are seekers. Some truly did seek and sought to seek but became so convinced that the answer they discovered is so absolutely correct, there is no discussion.
Now don’t confuse me. For you see, I am a man of conviction and I am not easily persuaded. But I am a seeker of Truth. There is truth and Truth can be known. But much of what goes on in life is not of Truth. There are many religious and non-religious people who are convinced that they have the Truth, that they are there to convince you of THEIR truth not THE Truth. Make no mistake about it – there is a difference.
So, it seems that I may have been given a blessing in order to determine how the conversation might go and this answer is found within Romans Chapter Fourteen. I like how The Message reads “each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.” But I also like the way the Complete Jewish Bible states it, “What is important is for each to be fully convinced in his own mind.” But I like The Scriptures translation as well “Let each one be completely persuaded in his own mind.”
Taking that passage, not out of context of Chapter Fourteen, means that no matter what a believer does they are to be fully convinced, absolutely determined, in what they believe. If a person is so convinced that Issue A is absolutely a sin there is absolutely no way that anything I have to say will convince them and persuade them otherwise. For you see, before I ever arrived at that point in their life, they became convinced of their position on Issue A, and if their belief is that Issue A is a sin, then it is sin. No Questions. No Discussion. Don’t Waste Your Breath.
Now, don’t get me wrong there are things that the God of the Scriptures has deemed sin, but there is also another truth found in First John. The Scriptures read “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin, not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for those not sinning unto death.” See there are profound things in the Word of God – sin does not necessarily lead to death. Hmm. Interesting. What to do? What to do? What to do…
I believe that I just might have the following question somewhere in the initial stages of a difficult discussion with those who appear to be in the group that are seemingly immovable. Here is the question I think I am going to start using it, “Are you absolutely 100% convinced that what you are saying is THE TRUTH?” If they respond with an emphatic “Yes!” There is no point in going on. Anything not emphatic is an assessment based on a tremendous amount of factors that include body language to vocal tone. But if it is emphatic, I will find a cordial means of ending the conversation.
So I will leave my note with one question: Are you absolutely 100% convinced that what you are saying is THE TRUTH?
To the comments I added:
I am convinced that I need to be convinced and convicted, but that does not mean that I should be so convinced and convicted that I reject prospects of greater Truth or extensions of Truth. God’s ways are beyond our ability to completely comprehend or define in simplistic terms (Ephesians 3.13-21).
It seems that in order to prevent rejection of a new idea, then i must accept this idea first, “I might be wrong, I could be wrong; and it seems that I am wrong.” That does not make a bad person, or an evil spirit, nor does that make me a person that is blown about by every wind of doctrine, but it does represent a humble spirit willing to learn, since our God is a God that is willing to teach.
As for The Message, it is not a translation that I use or recommend for in-depth exegetical studies; but for what it is designed to do, it seems to do it well. As with every translation there are things that I do not like, but I am incapable of making my own translation because I am not fluent in Hebrew or Greek. However, The Message has proven to me that it is useful for those young-in-the-faith and those early maturing believers and (the following is not intended as insensitive or an insult, but not everyone has the same reading skills) for those with who have difficulty with the KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, Interlinears, and similar translations.
An individual who asked the following:
So…are you saying that there is no absolute truth or that some have not found the absolute truth or that we can not possibly know the absolute truth? I believe that God has given us what we need and if there is anything else…well… we just don’t need it…at least for now.
I responded with the following:
I will copy/paste your questions and provide my response
“Are you saying that there is no absolute truth?” No. So yes, I am saying that there is absolute truth.
“or that some have not found the absolute truth?” No. I am saying that I have found the objective standard for absolute Truth and accept on faith that the Scriptures are the objective standard for absolute Truth. Yet, even Jesus speaks truths in such a way that not everyone is going to understand (matthew 13.13)
“or that we can not possibly know the absolute truth?” No. I am saying that it is impossible for anyone, other than Jesus, to absolutely know the absolute truth.
“I believe that God has given us what we need and if there is anything else…well… we just don’t need it…at least for now. ” I think that I am in agreement with you, but that does not mean that I perfect understanding of everything that God has revealed through His Word.
Hope that helps.
Later I added:
The challenge comes when we have been convicted that our understanding of something is absolutely true, then with further study, the truth did not change, per se, but our understanding of that truth is deepened and therefore possibilities themselves change or increase.
And closed out with this comment:
a person’s world view is handed down from a great many people and sources, generally speaking the people and the sources wanted to understand truth. But they (both the people and the sources) cannot all be correct.
When I come to realize and accept that my own understanding of truth is from my perception, and that my perception (my understanding) may not be in complete alignment with the Truth, then the challenge is for me to come into alignment.
Also, you are correct in the idea about discussing truth with other people. Understanding their perception an background does not mean that I accept their perception as true. BTW, understanding the perceptions and background for religious matters is viable method to better understand the truths of the Bible.