Does stupidity make you more responsible?
February 7, 2013
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This is the antithesis of the question asked by the headline of my last post, and it is an even dumber question than the last one. Nevertheless, I have heard sincere Christians advance arguments that sound an awful lot like this question.
“We’re just humble people, we know what we believe and don’t need to spend a lot of time studying the Bible, or history, or doctrine.” Such people are earnest and well meaning, but when that attitude continues for several generations, how will they even know if the ancient landmarks have been moved?
The person who is wise in his own eyes and the person who feels that there is virtue in ignorance both put themselves in the position of being unable to learn from others. When exposed to new winds of doctrine, the one who feels himself wise will examine them carefully and select those aspects that appear to prove his wisdom. The one who considers himself just a simple pilgrim will absorb elements of the new teachings without realizing that they are novelties without a sound Scriptural foundation.
It is permitted for a Christian to think. It is essential for a Christian to think. There is no excuse for not thinking.
We do not need to be afraid of the Bible. The doctrines of our Anabaptist-Mennonite faith are simply the teachings of the Bible. We do not need to fear that they will crumble into dust and blow away if we look at them too closely. It is novelties based on a unique reading of one or two verses of the Bible that will not stand close examination.
Some folks put a lot of emphasis on “rightly dividing the word of truth,” and use that as an excuse to cut the Scriptures up into little pieces and examine each little piece as if it has no relationship to any of the other pieces. The apostle Peter gave this warning: “ And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
“Wrest” in this verse means to twist, torture or tear apart. This should be our warning against a too literal interpretation of “rightly dividing” the Scriptures. The true meaning of that little phrase is to deal uprightly with the Word of God.
It is no more wise to be “foolish and unlearned” than it is to be “wise in our own conceits.”