let’s wait and see

I have to admit that there are times I get tired of all of our “learning.” I get tired of people who think we will figure it all out based on human reasoning alone. Don’t get me wrong, the mind is powerful and our capacity to understand is amazing. But, there is a limit to it all.   

In Christ the Center, Bonhoeffer makes the statement, “There may be some difficulties about preaching from a text whose authenticity has been destroyed by historical research.” Then he adds, “But it is through the Bible, with all its flaws, that the risen one encounters us. We must get into the troubled waters of historical criticism.”

This is often our problem when faith mixes with various academic disciplines: We are tossed around by what is currently known and not known.

Historical scholars says, ‘We have evidence of this. We have no evidence of that.’ If we buy into what they say, we are at the whims of what we have and do not have. But, what we have and do not have is constantly changing. The “problem passages of the Bible” change with the findings of new manuscripts and new historical finds.

Scientists say, ‘We have evidence of this. We have no evidence of that.’ If we buy into what they say, we are at the whims of what we know and do not know. And what we know now will be laughed at in fifty years. (Those poor primitive people who lived when THIS had not yet been discovered.)   

How many times are we going to place ourselves at the whims of the historical critic, the scientist, the psychologist, the sociologist, or the philosopher? Instead of looking at the big picture, we get caught up in examining the latest trend.

I think it is important to engage in dialogue with other disciplines. I think it is important to embrace what can be embraced. But it is alright to say, we know this is not the final word on the matter. I think we are all too willing to give ground to other academic disciplines and allow others ways of thinking to influence theology in ways that are not good.

It doesn’t hurt to step back and say, “The final word has not been written on the matter. Let’s wait and see.” This way, we will not have to unlearn some of our “learning.”

Even our best attempts at understanding have a certain disappointment. Ecclesiastes 1:16-17 says, “I said to myself, ‘Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge.’ I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.”

T.S. Eliot wrote a poem entitled ‘The Rock’ which included this penetrating lines: “All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,/all our ignorance brings us nearer to death,/but nearness to death no nearer to God.”


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