April 6, 2010
One of the things that has impressed me as I write the daily editions of the Jesus Passages for my website is the simplicity of the Lord’s message. What he requires of us is to simply believe in who he is and then do what he says. But, then I go to the bookstore or church.
What I read or hear layers my Christian walk with concepts and theological debates which make me feel inadequate to really understand or follow Jesus. Quite frankly, it takes the wind out of my sails. Dogmatic people get in my face to burden me with ideas about how sovereign God really is, to what extent does my choice to believe matter, is my salvation really secure, does my baptism experience count, or should I wave my hands or be one of the frozen chosen.
These friends take a biblical concept and then overwhelm me with what every writer from their perspective has said about it through the centuries. How could so many smart people be wrong? After reading their laborious arguments, it is hard to remember what Jesus actually said.
If you go to the dictionary you will discover that dogmatism involves asserting an opinion as though it were fact. My fellowship with dogmatic people is often determined by my agreement with their strong views about Jesus’ teaching rather than Jesus himself. Must our bond depend on which translation of the Bible I read or the length of time I believe it took him to create the world? What amuses me the most is their intensity about the sins of others but their blindness to their own.
Don’t get me wrong about the Bible and theology. I realize that some concepts have been revealed that are somewhat difficult to fully comprehend. My question is this: should we always filter the words of Jesus through men like Paul and other thinkers or should we let Jesus speak for himself. If we interpreted the Apostles by Jesus, their theologies may not be so complex. I am not trying to tinker with inspiration, just asking you to think about your priorities. Like the existence of time and space outside of creation, there are topics we may never understand until we see Jesus. He simply desires obedience.
When I read Jesus, his dogmatism captures my imagination. He wants me to obey all his words, help the poor, sacrifice for the suffering, tithe, share the gospel, turn the cheek, stop judging others and so much more. That is far easier to understand than some debates I hear but it doesn’t get as much press. Just think how different our world would be if we were dogmatic about his priorities. It might help us better understand and unify around those areas we contest. I guess it is easier to debate concepts than to get my hands dirty.
I noticed another curious thing in the dictionary when I looked up dogmatize. It is immediately followed by the word, do-gooder. Do you think God has a great sense of humor or what?
Your Comments: Click the box below and let us hear from you. OK, you can be dogmatic!