Is there a single person here who has been 100% convinced they were right - and with passion - only to find that they were wrong? As we look over our belief system over the years, we discover to our dismay (if we honestly face this issue) that we have been wrong more times than we would care to admit. Worse, we have been wrong about many fundamental truths.
"If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:18, NKJV).
In my time I have been a passionately convinced about atheism, scientific infallibility, Mormonism, Evangelical Christianity, Monarchism, Republicanism, Conservatism, Nationalism, Social Democracy, Jungian Psychology, Aliens, and many, many more. Mostly I have been shocked by my surety only to discover how really unsure I was. Because I am aware of my fallibility when it comes to so many things - I have, I hope, come to be more tolerant of the diverse beliefs of people. We're all at different places on the learning curve and still have a long way ago.
It was Werner Heisenberg who first coined the term widely known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. And although the application was in quantum mechanics, it can, in principle, be applied to anything. In a nutshell, what he said was that the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled, determined, or known, thus showing the limits of science. Without Yahweh as a direct source, we live in a world of relativism.
I know all about dogmatic science. I used to work amongst dogmatic scientists and I have never been free of them. These days, particularly in the realm of origins, scientists seek to win their debate over Evolution vs. Creation in terms of the amount of loud noise they can make rather than arguing through use of logic. The science of origins is today a matter of 'concensus' rather than fact - just as it was in the days of the Catholic hegemony. But it's not origins I want to really talk about today (though it provides a perfect illustration) but about the uncertainty which is human - and in particular theological - knowledge in general.
Throughout life you meet - and will meet - people who are passionately convinced they are right, and they can be very emotional about it. One thing that baffles nearly every single one of these people is that they can't understand why everybody else doesn't agree with them, and this causes them no end of frustration. Few, though, bother to sit down and consider why everyone else doesn't agree with them. I have been able to find seven reasons so far (maybe you can come up with some others).
Since this is a Messianic/Christian devotional, let's consider the question of theology. Why doesn't everyone agree with me? The reason they do not is because of one or more of these seven main possible reasons:
Of course, you may well be entertaing similar thoughts about my failure to be in doctrinal harmony with you! And from the point-of-view of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, we could both be right or wrong. The overwhelming statistical chances are that we are each right and wrong for multiple reasons.
- 1. They have not studied deeply enough (lack of scholarship);
- 2. They have not studied broadly enough (lack of perspective);
- 3. They have not studied long enough (lack of wisdom);
- 4. Their traditional prejudices have created a learning 'disability' that keeps them from the emet/truth (lack of freedom of thought);
- 5. They have sin in their life that is blinding them to the emet/truth (lack of holiness);
- 6. We donít have an infallible authoritative interpreter of Scripture that would bring doctrinal unity (lack of a Pope); and
- 7. They are not really Messianic/Christian - if they were, well ... they would agree with me! (lack of salvation).
Come on, it is utterly impossible that any one of us is 100% correct theologically. The only person who is 100% correct theologically is Yahweh-Elohim. Which begs some interesting questions: if we are all wrong to one degree or another, why do we get so upset with other people when what we are expecting is impossible? That being indisputably so, why do some people insist on arguing in the absurd belief that by being persistent they are somehow going to 'win'?
That is why I never get involved in debates any more. I have learned, through hard experience, that they not only get nowhere but create bad feelings that destroy that sacred bond of unity that Yah'shua (Jesus) was particular about our seeking in His High Priestly Prayer. That is why I believe in the attitude and approach of Count Nicholas Ludwig Zinzendorf who discovered that when people are fully immersed in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) that not only are their theological differences swept away but that they are living in the only sphere that ultimately matters - the presence of Yahweh.
Please understand that I am not arguing for ecumenism. Nor am I remotely saying that theology is unimportant. What I am saying is that the fullness of true theology is so radical that it would probably blow our minds away...which is why Yahweh has ordained that we learn piecemeal. This being so, the most important thing is that we learn to accept people wherever they are and not to go labelling them as heretics, retards, apostates or wicked if they genuinely love Yahweh and are searching for the emet (truth).
After all, if we were to scroll back a few years and look at what we believed back 'then', would we call ourselves any of these negative things? Would we want anyone to? And if they did, would it encourage me to keep searching or just provoke me to wrath and destroy the shalom (peace) that I have in what I do know to be true?
Yahweh does not think highly of zealous, prideful, arrogant, aggressive and unloving theologians. In fact, Yah'shua's (Jesus') biggest problem was with that religious class in His day who behaved in precisely that way. Their spiritual descendants are still with us, it would seem, wearing every ecclesiatsical lable you can think of.
We are, as I said, where we are, and we need to remember that we haven't made it ourselves yet. Yahweh still has to make adjustments to our lives - continually - which is why He has goven us the festival of Chag haMatazah every year. And what's all the more amazing is that so many Messianics, who pride themselves in their festival observances and think themselves so much more advanced than 'Christians', still haven't got it - they're still on Lesson #2 in the seven-part course which is life.
Oh boy, do we have a lot to learn still! And if you're not convinced of that, why not pause now and take the Nine Character Tests?
Boasting of our theological correctness or rightness (that's called "self-righteousness" in Scripture) is not a plus in our favour. In fact, it makes Yahweh furious. It seems that too many Messianics (and not a few Evangelicals) have the Papal bug they pretend to so despise.
There is not a single belief that you or I have that is protected by infallibility. If there was, we would cease to be living by emunah (faith). We would then be seeking certainty through knowledge (gnosis) instead.
That's not to say we can't or shouldn't know anything. Far from it. As our emunah (grows) by walking in emet (truth), so emunah (truth) metamorphoses in to heavenly da'at (knowledge). It isn't just learned from books or experiences for the simple reason we aren't saved by brain-power (thoughts), nor by heart-power (emotions/feelings) either, incidentally. We are saved by the emunah (faith) that we choose to exercise through our ruach (spirit). Thoughts are but tools of analysis and feelings are but the way we experience the ruach (spirit). We need all three together but there is a proper hierarchy - spirit > thoughts > feelings - that lead us ro make actions.
Whether we like it or not, there is always going to be diversity in the Body of Messiah. What matters is that we start with the essentials and build on them. What are those essentials? Trusting in the resurrected Yah'shua (Jesus) as basically summarised in the Apostles' Creed.
Absolutely certainty is only ever held by those who have all the information and are interpreting it correctly. Obviously we don't so we're never going to be absolutely certain. But then we don't need to be, nor are we ever expected to be. We are to live by emunah (faith) and extend the same grace (undeserved loving kindness, unmerited favour) to others as we would want them to extend to us in our own ignorance and imperfection. Emunah (faith) is the great leveller because salvation is never by works or by knowledge. It is by surrender to the Messiah who in turn fully surrendered His will to His Father. Amen.