Saturday, June 21, 2008

Looking to Learn from Outside the Christian Realm

For a long time I dismissed the idea that unbelievers might have things to teach me in a way that I couldn't learn better from believers. Perhaps this is true of many of us. To open oneself to learning from unbelievers, or even from those who call themselves believers but may hold to a questionable doctrine, a Christian will have to dedicate more thought to weeding through areas of ungodly or unconventional thinking and just plain licentiousness to discern where there might be truths that we don't find addressed in the believing realm. I am daring to explore more of these resources, knowing that they may be fraught with potential potholes, but that there are great things to be discovered whose benefits overarch the dangers. I feel that our Christian resources at times tend to be a little ingrown and not equipped to grapple with some of the more mundane, non-spiritual or even relational difficulties that are part of all of our lives.
Yesterday I happened upon's website. I am acquainted with their materials, but haven't read them for years. I was pleasantly surprised at their website these days. It seems a little less to the left than I remember it being years ago, and more on-center, more usable for everyman. I found an article on marriage that, though it doesn't apply Scripture to its principles, doesn't appear to me to be unscriptural and is actually rather insightful: Lasting Love: Five secrets to keeping a long-term relationship fresh and vibrant. Of course, since it isn't written from a specifically scriptural perspective, incorporating the elements of the article in a scriptural way will launch the success of their advice to a higher and more meaningful level.
Today Katie received some textbooks she had ordered in the mail for next term at college. I sat and looked at one, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes. In the back it had a reading list of recommended Christian books; I recognized many of the authors' names. On this list was one by Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand, which discusses the book of Ephesians. Some months ago our Pastor Ken preached a sermon that he acknowledged was based on this book. Since I had in times before been told that Watchman Nee had some off-based theology, I was guarded in my response to the material, though I found nothing objectionable in the ideas our pastor gave in his sermon. Since that book was not only used by our pastor but recommended in a book required in one of Katie's courses, I surmise that Watchman Nee presented truth in writing that particular one. Maybe some of his books are off, but I know that there is not a person on earth who has a monopoly on truth, and who is immune to error. Psalm 118:9 says, It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 146:3 says, Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. If you've ever put your trust fully in any human being on earth, you know that they will eventually disappoint you, let you down, break a promise, tell a lie, fail you, mislead you...not because they are so much more evil than other people, but because they are merely human; they are not perfect. It is not a reason to go around being suspicious of people in an overwhelming sense, but it is reason not to put your trust fully in any mere human.
No matter what material we are reading, no matter how much we trust the author, we have to beware of false ideas being presented. No one is perfect except Jesus Christ. Only Jesus Christ and His word will never fail you. So when the Bible says to "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good," in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, it is for that reason. God's word is the gold standard, that which can be fully trusted, and against which all lies and mis-statements will be shown for what they are. It frees the Christian who knows the Scriptures to be able to discern good from evil, to explore the world with a measuring stick that will expose error and allow useful truths to surface.

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