SOME ASSEMBLY MAY BE REQUIRED
I got to reflecting on the Bible. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that I had lunch with Monte Erwin today. Maybe even the fact that I had lunch with CB Scott Friday. Goodness knows that'll do something to you.
What I got to thinking about was this: in the process of raising two boys (most of which was done by my sweetheart, anyway), I put together a lot of stuff for Christmas and birthdays, for which instructions were needed. On the rare occasions when I actually paid any attention to them, they were quite clear. It's not hard to take part "A" and insert it into slot "Q", particularly when they even give you pictures of the part and the slot. And each and every screw, nut, bolt, etc.
Then I got to thinking about the Bible and the church and believers in general. And about differences in opinion about speaking in tongues, baptism, systems of beliefs, even which day we're supposed to worship on. Whether women can teach or preach or govern. And that's where the rub comes in.
Is Christianity supposed to be like assembling a swing set or a do-it-yourself computer desk? Go here ... pay this ... take one of these and put it into one of those... is that what it's supposed to be like? Are we all supposed to look like a row of furniture or toys when we're done?
If not, then I have to suppose that God did this on purpose. Made things purposely just vague enough that we all have to look to Him, and not to some other hooman bean like us, to tell us what He had in mind for ME when He wrote it. That'd be ok, of course, if I care enough to want to know the truth. God wrote the book ... and the Author is still alive ... so I can ask Him. If I am interested.
If this is true, it's likely we'd end up with views and opinions and interpretations which vary in some degree or another with almost everybody else.
Gosh. That's almost inhuman. Hmmmm .. that might explain why we could never conclude that God is a man. And no, don't send me cruise missiles reminding me about the Trinity, either.
Now ... against the strangeness (that the "vagueness" of scripture in some areas may be intentional), replay the fact that some things are crystal clear. Thou shalt have NO OTHER GODS. There is NO OTHER NAME by which we may be saved. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER but by Jesus.
Why do you suppose God would DO A THING LIKE THAT? WHY? Perhaps it really is, that we must come to our own Bible-based faith, and we are to have faith that is strong enough to differ with others and still be secure in our faith. Maybe we're supposed to be staunch in what we believe. If so, how did we ever get into a system in which half the members couldn't be found by bloodhounds, and the ones who do show up look a lot like the world? And wouldn't that coincide with what they folks who wrote the BF&M ... including the Preamble ... seem to have been driving at?
Look ... those folks could have set out a cookie-cutter summary of beliefs that looked like the Westminster Confession of Faith, or any of the other confessions of faith which other denominations stand on. But they didn't. Doesn't that seem obvious?
One of the most attractive things about the Baptist Church, when I came to it from the PCA, was the BF&M. It was a broad display of beliefs that united a wide spectrum of believers, and hinted at the early church, when believers had precious little doctrine but a huge dose of the reality of Jesus. I like that then, and I still do.
If this diversity really is God-ordained, then those who are trying to narrow the definition of what it means to be a Baptist may be spitting in the face of God. We hear an awful lot about the BF&M and the Baptist traditions, but what if it was God Who was behind all that?
Personally, I'm trotting out my best Caleb impression and I'm gonna wait for the other 10 spies to die off.