Friday, December 02, 2005
Raising Kids in a Post-Modern World
Calvinism arose out of Calvin's personal Bible study. His understanding of God proved useful to many people in the church, so many of them adopted his interpretation as their own.
We all do this. Many of my beliefs come from Calvin's contemporary, Jacobus Arminius. Theologians have a name for what my cousin and I believe, too: Arminianism. And if you want to link it to a different person, that's fine.
The point is we can trace every theology back to human doctrine. The Bible is God's Living Word, but my human brain is the one reading it. I may even reject all previous human theologies to rely on what the Bible says, but I am only going to discover human doctrine - because I am human. When I read the Bible, when I study, when I pray, I see through a glass darkly. But soon I will know God fully, even as I am fully known.
I'm not suggesting some kind of post-modern relativism. Relativism teaches that there is no absolute truth. It teaches that each individual perspective has as much validity as every other.
I believe in an absolute truth. There is only one name that has been given to us by which we can be saved, Jesus Christ. He is the Truth.
We can know him, but we cannot know him fully as long as we are in this world. Instead, we must devote ourselves to the piece of eternity with which we have been entrusted.
My dad taught me about the Kohathites in Numbers 4. They have changed the way I understand my relationship with God.
Like us, they were priests, part of the tribe of Levi. When God moved through the world, their job was to carry his house. We play a similar role when we help him move his Word through the world today.
The Kohathites carried pieces of the tabernacle all wrapped up. They didn't understand what they were carrying, but they knew it was holy. And dangerous. If they touched it, they would die.
We too have pieces of God's Word to carry. What we carry is holy and dangerous. Because Jesus lives in us, we don't have to fear death like the Kohathites. I can unwrap my piece of God's Word, I can study it, I can touch pieces of God directly in prayer and study. But in this life I must remember that I only know in part. God is bigger than I can possibly imagine. His Word more complex than I can possibly imagine.
I cannot know him fully in this world. None of us can. But we try and we try and we try because he is so wonderful.
The universal church is the closest thing to God in the world. I want to study all the saints from Calvin to Arminius to Augustine to Elisabeth Eliott to C. S. Lewis to Bultmann. I want to learn about the piece of God's Word that they carried.
Did their humanity distort the message God gave them? Of course. My humanity distorts the message He gives me. I see God's reflection in a warped mirror, but I can still learn so much about him from what he chooses to reveal to me.
But I take Exodus 20:7 very seriously. I try so hard not to misuse the name of the Lord. This commandment is about much more than cursing. It is about my witness to the world. If I mistake the finite piece of God which has been revealed to me for God's infinite and eternal glory, I am mistaken. Worse, if I teach others that my view of God is anything but a small piece of his glory, I am misusing his name. God is absolute truth, but I can't know him fully in this world. To pretend I can is to misrepresent him to the world.
Real Live Preacher has a great article that addresses this topic. You can read it at the irreverent but wonderful site, The Wittenburg Door.