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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Hiding Behind Secrets...

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. - Deuteronomy 29:29 [NASB]

Has this, or anything like it, ever happened to you?

You: So you admit that God chose, from the before foundation of the world, those who would come to faith?

Some guy: That is what the scriptures say, and I have no problem with that.

You: So you believe that God chooses whom He will save?

Some guy: I do.

You: Yet you insist that Jesus actually died for no one in particular?

Some guy: That's right, I believe that God saves a person because that person chooses God.

You: But that is irrational. You cannot say on the one hand that God chooses, then on the other say that man chooses - there can only be one cause, not two.

Some guy: Well, that's just one of those secret things of God - a mystery we will never understand.

You: The secret things of God are things that God has hidden, not things God has shown but you have failed to rationally understand.

Some guy: You're so arrogant! You think you can understand the hidden things??

You: Um, no, I don't think I can understand the hidden things, rather I think you are using the notion of "the secret things of God" to justify covering your ears when your theology is shown to be irrational, and therefore wrong. A thing isn't "secret" just because your theology chokes on it - that's probably an indication that there is something wrong with one of your assumptions.

Some guy: I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

It doesn't really matter what your conversation was about, as long as it got to the place where some brother or sister was shown a gaping hole in their thinking, and they immediately pulled the "it's a secret thing of God" card on you, then considered you filled with pride and arrogance because your theology wasn't quite as "hole-y" as theirs (pun intended), and finally refused to hear any more about it since they had no intention of being taught anything new, having loved the old wine of ignorance.

This post isn't about who is right or wrong however. It is about using the secrets things of God as a theological "catch all" to insulate yourself from instruction that you don't want to hear. Being teachable is a sign of humility, and humility a sign of maturity. It is good to be convinced in what you believed, but it is arrogant to imagine that because you are genuinely sincere, you are therefore right in everything you believe.

If someone points out something irrational in your theology - don't agree to disagree, that is not how iron sharpens iron - rather humble yourself and open your ears - give that person your full and open attention, make sure that you so fully understand what they are saying that you can not only repeat it back to him and be understood without it sounding snide - but that you also understand how this fits into the rest of that person's theology. Ask questions as though you were the one who was wrong, in fact, as much as is in you - have that kind of heart when you receive instruction (that is, a contrite heart). If after fully understanding the other's position you stand convinced of your own, then explain why it is that you remain unconvinced, and ask the other to show you where your reasoning is flawed. What a blessing it will be if he or she can and does show you some flaw in your reasoning.

If you are the one who is on the receiving end of some irrational theology be firm but patient, and especially guard yourself from taking the role of teacher. Come along side, do not stand above. Don't tell yourself that you can argue someone into a better conviction - all you can do is lay the truth as you know it before their eyes, and God does the rest.

It has been my own experience, that this situation happens more often when each person presumes himself to be the other's teacher.

posted by Daniel @ 8:52 AM  
  • At 12:18 PM, May 20, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I can't be the only guy this happens to?

  • At 9:47 AM, May 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, you're not. Though I'm a gal, so maybe, technically, this has happened only to you, a guy, once.

    This exact exchange happened between me and a pastor. So, I believe you are correct that it results when one person sees themselves as above the other, a teacher. Any disagreement is seen as a challenge, whether presented that way or not.


  • At 10:48 AM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jen, when I run up against this sort of thing, it always amazes me that a rational person can imagine there is something intellectually honest about regarding contradicting doctrines as equally valid. Worse is the one who agrees that it doesn't make sense to hold contrary doctrines, but is unwilling to plumb the depths of his or her own theology in order to learn where the discrepency comes from - that is, they are satisfied to remain ignorant, and regard doing so as a sort of holy endeavor.


  • At 2:23 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I think this is in fact rather common. However, most of us tend to behave more like the teacher than the equal when attempting to prove our point.

    I would say the main reason for the "trump" card is usually laziness. The other party simply does not want to expend the energy to see the subject through to it's logical conclusion.

    The second reason is that the person holding the contradictory philosophy has probably staked his foundational worldview in part on what he is now trying to defend. To realize he may be wrong is scary, therefore he resorts to the classic mystery statement in order to keep the waters muddy.

    Coming into the light requires being exposed for who we are and our pride is inherently opposed to that. So I agree we are to lay the truth before them and let the Spirit of truth guide them.

  • At 3:00 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - I wonder if laziness isn't sometimes a byproduct of a sort of arrogant certainty: I am so certain that I am right, that I regard it as a waste of my time for me to review the merits of any interpretation that is contrary to my own.

    I mean, it sort of looks like lazy, but is more easily justified that laziness, since it masquerades as "not worth my effort"?

  • At 10:03 AM, May 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Especially if you've spent the money for the seminary degree, having spent 20+ years as a pastor, and could lose your retirement if you held a position outside of the statement of faith of your denomination. Not laziness, but fear masquerading as arrogance?

    I remember spending an afternoon with a very nice couple who lovingly offered to come to our home to discuss the topic of perseverance of the Saints - to show us that we were wrong. We politely discussed Scripture for a few hours. It went just as you suggest a dialogue of this sort should. We each offered our verses and looked at them and wrote them down for further study. But, in the end, they were more defensive than when we began. I like to believe it was because they saw something that shook their conviction, but weren't ready to throw away their belief.
    The sad thing is that, upon seeing them again, they had concluded that there were three possibilities - that's how they reconciled "contradictory" passages. There were the saved, the lost, and the partly-saved.


  • At 10:39 AM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jen - we take comfort in the sure knowledge that when all is said and done, it remains for the Lord to open eyes so that no one can close them.

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