Monday, November 19, 2007
Many Christians began their walk with experience. The vast majority of conversions do not happen because someone begins to investigate the systematic theology of Hodge or Aquinas. Now it is indeed possible that God could use any means, any tool, to regenerate someone,(even the systematic works of Turretin in latin) but this is not the normative method he seems to use. In fact conversions do not even usually happen through reading scripture for oneself (although this was my experience). Conversions normally happen because someone shares a simple gospel message and the Holy Spirit uses this to regenerate them. The day after conversion, however,is a different story. Most of us when we first convert begin to devour scripture. Many of us will continue to read scripture and will also begin to read what other people (current and ancient) thought about scripture. Before long we have a systematic theology, a favorite camp, a specific version of the bible (how many of you have ESV's?) and a host of arguments and thoughts for the ideas we have. This is when the problem can set in.
At this point in their Christian walk many believers now begin to reinsert where they currently are theologiclaly back on top of where they were originally. They believe that their current stances on doctrine are the beginning of faith, not part of the journey of it. They begin to think that conversion begins with good doctrine and then one moves toward experience; instead of faith beginning with an experience and moving towards good doctrine.
Scripture tells us that; "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.(1 Corinthians 2:14). We cannot have understanding of theology without first having the Spirit. Furthermore, once we have the Spirit we do not have instantly correct doctrine. Doctrinal formulation is a growing process for each of us, and continues over our lifetimes.
The point of this is that we must be careful to automatically assume someone is reprobate because they mess something up systematically. It could be they were like a certain young lay leader in his church who once led a devotional in which (after carefully exegeting john 1:1-3 in the back of strongs concordance) proclaimed that the bible was a manifestation of God...(in the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God) - and we all know the bible is the word. So this CERTAIN young man basically taught heresy, and later realized how foolish he had been. Don't worry, he recanted and is currently a youth minster in some church in Philadelphia, PA.