Warner's TheoBlog

Thoughts from a disciple who writes

I don’t want balance… I want Truth


It is always great to receive comments following a blog post. Keep them coming readers!

After a recent post, where I offered some suggestions about useful web resources for theology, I received a comment from a friend who offered me some alternative sites with some theological views that were different to the ones I had offered. I would summarise them by saying that they were less Reformed and more Post-evangelical. He suggested that they might offer some balance to the sites that I had suggested and give people some alternative ideas. This got me to thinking…

Do I want balance on this blog?

I did have a look at the sites and they were very interesting. But I did not particularly agree with the theological perspective from which they were written.

This is not, in itself, a problem. If a person is a mature Christian and interested in theology, then there is nothing to fear from reading ideas and opinions that are different from their own. In fact, it can be both healthy and educational.

When I was studying theology I looked at many ideas that were properly opposed to my own theology. I had severe concerns about the writings of Fredrik Schleiermacher, Rudolf Bultmann and John Spong, who were on my reading list. There are also whole swathes of the works of Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and Karl Barth that cause me some trouble. In honesty, even now, there are certain things that Mark Driscoll teaches (who I recommended in my previous blog) that I am not sure I agree with.

But that is OK. People do not need to agree with me to be saved. They need to believe in Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. If it were up to me, Bolton Wanderers supporters would not get into heaven and anyone who thought computer games were a waste of time would be dancing on the edge of heresy.

One of the things that Mark Driscoll teaches, which I have found incredibly useful, is that idea of Closed and Open handed issues. Mark says that the closed handed issues of theology are those for which one would face death to uphold. Among these would be the divinity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, the Sovereignty of God, the Trinity and so on. The open handed issues are those which, were an agent of evil to hold a gun to my head, claiming that they will pull the trigger if I did not back down, I would back down. One of these, for me, might be 6-day creation. I am in no doubt that God Created the heavens and the earth, but I am not really sure I would take a bullet over whether he did it in a literal 6 days or a metaphorical 6 days. (I am sorry if this offends you, dear reader).

As far as I am concerned, on the closed handed issues, I do not want balance, I want truth. On the open handed issues, I am open to discussion.

This Blog is my own work and my own ideas. I am concerned less with balance, and more with expression of what is bubbling up inside of me. There are aspects to it that people might not agree with and that is OK. If you believe that Jesus is Lord and have accepted Him as your saviour, then I am happy. You might be wrong on some things, but that is the most important one and the rest we can discuss (vigorously if necessary).

In our society, it is not acceptable to say that someone is wrong. It is believed by the majority of people that, as long as a person’s belief does not hurt anyone else, they have a right to hold that belief and that it is ‘true for them’. This is a travesty of truth. If a person is wrong, then they are wrong. There is nothing wrong in my pointing it out to them, or their pointing it out to me. It is what one does to that person when they are wrong that matters.

You might be wrong… but I promise not to burn you at the stake or hand you over to the inquisition. I hope that you will offer me the same respect. I don’t want balance, I want truth! But I don’t need to stone people when they disagree with me.

It comes down to this…

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

It is not about being right; it is about how we treat people when they are wrong.

I hope that this does not read as too much of a ramble and I would be fascinated to have people’s thoughts on this subject. I look forward to your replies.

Author: nigelthewarner

Disciple, husband, father, writer and football fan.

10 thoughts on “I don’t want balance… I want Truth

  1. I totally agree on close and open hand example although this two way split betrays a dualistic view of things which is very much the place MD appears to come from. I think the balance I was suggesting was along the lines of the majority of our lives and faith isn’t spent discussing the divinity of Christ but rather the application and understanding of the working out of the Christian life in the everyday. So coping with suffering (is all about an angry God, as Piper seems to suggest so often), sexuality (a very hot topic at the moment), the role of women, leaders, pastors etc., the growth of different streams of Christianity, engagement on social and political issues both big and small, specific and principled, local and national (it was great to see the Methodist, baptists, c of e and others write to the PM to condemn the DWP and IDS for both presenting false stats about benefits and those who claim them).
    What I have seen in churches are leaders who live in a theological cul de sac and keep their listeners in there with them.
    Whilst I agree as I said at the beginning on some key truths very much in keeping with the creeds that have stood for centuries, I do believe that god has left us to work our lives under his grace and truth in a broad inclusive sense rather than a narrow this is right and you are wrong response.
    Hope this comment gets published!

    • As far as dualism is concerned, it think that is a false concept in relation to what i am saying. I think the closed hand is certainly holding on to things that are true (which is a black and white idea that is simply necessary), the open hand is a way of allowing disagreement without losing relationship. I think that there is true and false and right and wrong. There are people who are wrong… but i still love them. The key for me is not in theology and human understanding, but in relationship with Jesus. I am not a church leader and this is not a community blog. It is my thoughts and my understanding, so i feel no need to be inclusive or broad. It is simply what i think and find useful. Accept it or reject it as is useful to you, and enjoy or not as is the situation. If that is black and white, so be it. I am always happy to discuss and there is no reason to not publish.
      As an aside, i long ago discovered that my intellect is not sufficient for me to understand the truth of God. I can, therefore, either choose to reject things i do not understand or move forward in faith based upon what i believe and pray for understanding. Onwards and upwards!

  2. The challenge is to be “open” with the closed handed issues. The “closed” issues you mentioned I am in agreement with (but that is not the point) but are we open to occasionally evaluating our “closed” issues in the light of faith? There might be a few open issues that might migrate, and vice versa.

    For me, for example, the issue of justice is a closed issue. God’s demand for justice for the poor seems quite conclusive to me. Many of us are too “open” on this issue and are too comfortable with our wealth, privilege, status and comfort.

    • Good point Dan. Interesting how we deal with closed handed issues when the people we are dealing with do not hold them in the same way.

      • I have been thinking a little bit more about your post and comment on my comment.
        I guess we are probably coming from different places, and that is ok.
        You said you don’t want balance but truth but what is truth? Truth is a person – Jesus.
        Truth or the correct interpretation of scripture, now that is something that in a lot of areas is just one (or many) persons best view or interpretation of what these ancient words mean to us now.
        If we had the mind of God I guess we could look at churches, theologies, doctrines and practices and pick all the correct ones and have a perfect answer.
        It is interesting that God has allowed so a varied interpretation of beliefs and practices to be developed by people who love Jesus and want to extend his kingdom.
        I made the point about churches as comment on my experience not on you on this blog. I remember at my C of E church being shocked and impressed at the vicar who said about the bible go and read this discuss it with your friends and think about what it means, don’t just say Bob says this about the this passage, I could be wrong, I don’t know all the answers. That was refreshing and I wonder how many preachers would be comfortable saying something like that.
        But as you say it is your blog and you can put your own views out here and they are valid, they may be right, wrong or somewhere in between but you are right it is yours to write as you wish.

      • I have no problem with most of what you say, with one exception. To say that Truth is the person of Jesus seems to me to be an excuse to believe whatever one wants. Jesus is the embodiment of truth, but different perceptions of the person of Jesus are not necessarily all true. Jesus is not a justification for opinion, he is the living Son of God who it is possible to misperceive as is evidenced in the New Testament.
        I think it is vital to have discussion and opinion about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Scripture, but it is still possible to have a ‘correct’ understanding and knowledge. How do we tell what is true or not is an interesting question. And how do we treat people with whom we disagree?
        “Speak the Truth in love has a huge number of implications”

  3. Personally, I have had the privelege of being brought up in a Pentecostal cult…I say privelege because after I left, I realised I needed to question everything I had been taught. It was the greatest gift God gave me! I believe Christians should digest and ponder all sorts of material and beliefs when it comes to faith. It shouldn’t neccessarily be the writer’s obligation to theologically back up every point they’ve made, not many of us would write if this became the norm. I believe the onus is with the reader to “Search out a matter”, not in order to fit the matter into their own truth, but to discover what truth God may want to uncover for them. As one who has been been railroaded to believe a particular doctrine, who was taught not to question, who blindly believed one very important doctrine to be a closed matter when it was not, perspective is healthy. It is up to the individual believer to seek out perspective however, not for the writer to present umpteen different ‘balanced’ viewpoints for perusal…that would be exhausting!

    • Thanks for these comments. They were very helpful in helping me crystalise my thoughts. I grew up as a minister in a denomination very different, in that they were VERY liberal and it didn’t matter what you believed as long as you didn’t tell anyone that they were wrong. Every idea had to be accompanied by a huge set of caveats that would give people a reason to disagree and validate their different points of view. It was exhausting.
      I have no problem with people disagreeing with me and my thoughts. I also have no problem with telling them that i think they are wrong. I have come to the conclusion that if one gets offended by disagreement it is a comment on one’s own insecurity rather than truth. I do not mind disagreeing and I do not mind being disagreed with. BUT, by the time i write something down i have gone through a process of thought that leads me to believe i am right. I am open to counter argument and, if i find that the counter arguments are correct, i will believe that they are right.
      I have faith in the truth and faith that there is a truth. I do not have the energy or the desire, in the context of a blog, to put across beliefs other than my own other than to comment on them from the perspective of my own beliefs.
      I am interested however… what would be your blog post of the words, “Speak the truth in love”?
      I think i will cogitate it myself and i look forward to replies and further thoughts.

      • My personal experience with ‘speaking the truth in love’ has led to much heartbreak. I have found people in general aren’t receptive to truth, or mine anyway.

        I think in general people prefer ‘truth’ that hurts them least or fits into their own ideals.

        Those who have received the truth as it was intended to be, delivered in love, have been changed by the exchange, when I was moved by God to speak it.

        In general, speaking truth hurts…but I would still do so if called to.

    • I agree with what you have said about searching out the truth and thinking issues through and I certainly don’t think any writer on any subject can present all the sides to an argument certainly not on a blog post! My original comment on the other blogs to look that I think (hopefully I can remember it correctly) it would bring balance to Nigel’s list was as much meant in terms of diiference as the four list are very much in the reformed/fundamentalist evangelical vein (that would be how I would describe them).
      I was trying to add a few suggestion that have challenged and helped me but having re-read the blog post I am now thinking Nigel didn’t want anyones suggestions, hee certainly didn’t ask for them – however I am also guessing this post wouldn’t have been ‘born’ without my attempted comment!
      I guess the real trick in balance is to be comfortable where you are in your faith but always seeking to grow and being open to where that source of grow comes from, after all we often grow most through terrible hardship and desert times, and God works in and through all things. That is comfortable in the sense of being ready to question things that don”t sit right with us/the spirit within us/our current understanding of scripture but also ready to accept or try things that challenge our view/understanding/experience of God.

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