Theological Investigation for the Complete Klutz – 1
It occurred to me today that as I begin to post about this infant salvation stuff that many Christians won’t know how to deal with this issue. What do I mean by that?
The average Christian has all the theological aptitude of a clam in roller skates. Ask the average Christian about something theological, and you’re likely to get a pithy slogan, some kind of acrostic (i.e. JOY = Jesus, Others, You), or a quote from the latest fad such as The Purpose-Driven Life or Your Best Life Now. If George Barna and others are to be believed, we live in the most biblically and theologically illiterate church since before the Reformation. Some would amend that to say ever.
It wasn’t always that way. After the Reformation, “average” Christians wrote fantastic works of theology and books on Christian living that actually did tell you how to live Christianly. We know those people today as the Puritans. For a glimpse of just how deep they were, look at The Valley of Vision, a collection of prayers written by Puritans from all walks of life, rich and poor, men and women, educated and not. These Christians were certainly far from average, by todays standards, but in their day it seems to have been expected. Such depth continued through the time of Jonathan Edwards, and saw a revival under Charles Spurgeon, before the 20th century got its grubby hands on it.
Theology today is viewed with some suspicion, especially in this postmodern world. Look at most theological arguments from the average Christians, and instead of reading something biblical, you will instead read arguments of well-constructed logic at best. At worst, and more commonly, you will read emotional screeds. Daring to suggest that “the Bible says” over and against these lesser and invalid arguments can get you called all sorts of things that Christians ought not be calling other Christians. In their minds, there is no excuse for standing up and asking if something is biblical.
Case in point, after I began to seriously blog, I was actually told by a fellow seminary student (maybe he was a Boyce student, I don’t really know) who will remain nameless that I was “in league with the Devil” after I wrote something about the sincerity and biblical validity of testimonies. That was a hissy fit I don’t care to see repeated here. But such “hissy fits” are commonplace. If you watch the most popular preachers on television today, their sermons are emotionally loaded, tug at the heartstrings of their listeners, and fry their brains with logic. The majority of those sermons are also unscriptural.
Further, when the average Christian studies the Bible, it is with the view of having peace of mind on an issue, or how oneself can benefit, or how God can make one happy. When that study turns into debate or even apologetics, the results are terribly disappointing. The Christian relies on emotional appeals (my favorite is “MY God would/wouldn’t…” or one of the many appeals to the love of God, as if it is the Band-Aid of the universe), appeals to logic (“If you do X, God will do Y, then Z will happen), or pure guesswork based on what the Christian has been taught by leaders he/she trusts and what little he/she has actually gleaned from the Bible. Keep in mind that none reading this paragraph, including the guy who wrote it, are innocent of these things. Every last one of us has done them at some point in our Christian walk.
The result is that when issues such as the one we will soon discuss are brought up, people become easily offended and will not think the issue through biblically. Instead, those emotional/logical/loyalty attachments are held even more tightly, and the Christian becomes what the Old Testament called “stiff-necked.” Scripture is ignored or even (knowingly or unknowingly) derided. I was once told by someone reacting in this way that “I just pretend those verses aren’t in the Bible.”
So, as a primer for the discussion on infant salvation that will ensue on this Silent Holocron, in the next post I am going to provide some basics of theological investigation for laypeople. The majority of the people who read this blog are pastors or seminary students, but those of you who are not will benefit from it. Perhaps these principles will even help you to understand the Bible better. Furthermore, perhaps these principles will help you to help not only me, but other Christians come to a biblical conclusion on infant salvation or other issues. Even better, perhaps these principles will spark a hunger in you to desire God’s glory in all you do.
Join us tomorrow when I will post these principles.