Last week I wrote a post entitled, “This I Used to Believe‘. Which was inspired by a recent broadcast from NPR called This I Believe. I planned on it being a Meme, but it doesn’t appear that anyone has taken me up on my offer. Today’s post is going to elaborate on last weeks post. I had a few questions both in the comments in on Facebook about what I wrote and I would like to deal with those here.
This I Now Believe:
1. I used to believe it was my job to judge others, but now I believe that I can only judge myself. Jesus spent so much time correcting the thinking of the Jewish Elders. They had a law and used it to condemn one-another, Jesus taught them (and us) that the law was really meant to be used to judge ourselves. Today, we use the New Testament “laws” to judge others… I can’t help but think that maybe Jesus intends for us to use those “laws” to judge ourselves.
2. I used to believe that a pastor was a paid position, but now I believe that there is no Scriptural support for paying a pastor a salary. I have dealt with some of this in previous posts. After studying Scripture, considering context, and reconsidering my previous position, I have come to the opinion that it is more of a hinderance than a help to pay a pastor a salary. I am not saying that people are wrong or sinning by taking part in this activity just that from my studies I do not believe it is a best practice.
3. I used to believe that the SBC was the most Scriptural denomination, but now I believe that the SBC is equal to all other denominations. The SBC has positive traits about it and negative traits about it. Some things the SBC does are more inline with Scripture than other denominations, and others are way off base. Afterall, the SBC is run by men and with men comes error. By the way, it is not my intention to pick on the SBC in this post… but the SBC is the one denomination that I have the closest affiliation with and know the most about.
4. I used to believe that women were not qualified to teach men, but now I believe that women are both qualified and capable of teaching men. Truth be told, I do not have a fully formed opinion about what Scripture (esp. Paul) is teaching us in regards to women and men. I have read compelling arguments on both sides. I currently lean towards the idea that women are not forbidden from teaching men – for at least a couple reasons. First, in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28). Second, I have been taught and blessed by many women, especially my wife.
5. I used to believe that it was a sin to drink wine/alcohol, but after reading Scripture I realized that not only is wine/alcohol not forbidden it is condoned and actually encouraged in some instances by the Father and Jesus! (Deut. 14:26, Prov. 31:6, John 2:1-10) The only thing that is ever condemned in scripture regarding alcohol its misuse.
6. I used to believe that God had called me to become a vocational pastor, but now since I believe that is it a hindarence to receive a salary from those people that you lead, I believe that God may have called me to be a pastor, but one who works with his hands – just as Paul gave us as an example. (Acts 20:34-35, 1 Thes. 4:11, 2 Thes., 2 Thes. 3:7-11)
7. I used to believe that Christians go to Heaven when they die, but now I believe that Christians go to Paradise when they die. I believe there is a difference between the two. I have a hard time seeing any place in Scripture that indicates that any Christian goes to Heaven after life. I could be completely wrong, but my studies have led me to believe that when we die we go into a place of Paradise (perhaps a place of non-Paradise for non-Believers)… then at the End of Days we will be judged, the new Earth will be formed, and we will forever abide on the new Earth with Jesus.
8. I used to believe that maturity came from going to all the church services, but now I believe that many Church-goers are very immature in their walk with Christ. Not because they don’t want maturity, but because they are never given an opportunity to grow. Sure we give them programs to join and Bible studies to attend, but real growth comes from following Jesus, by encouraging one-another, edifying one-another, teaching one-another. I see a lack of growth in today’s church structures because there is usually only a few men who are given the opportunity to follow the “one-another” commands in Scripture.
9. I used to believe the Bible was inerrant and infallible, but now I believe that the Bible is neither inerrant nor infallible. I have wrote a series about this in the past. But let me try to sum up my position here. The Bible is a collection of works, scripts, and manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have errors, misprints, different words/layouts, etc. When we look at all of this evidence we are only ~99% sure of the content of the NT and ~95% sure of the content of the OT. Many would say, “Yes but the remaining % does not effect our Theology”. To which I would respond, fine – but it’s still not a perfect document. In order for something to be considered inerrant and infallible, it needs to be perfect. Our Bibles without translation are not perfect and our Bibles with translation are even less perfect. I believe that Scripture is inerrant and infallible – we don’t have the original manuscripts, but we do have the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us. If we stopped relying on an imperfect document and started to rely on a perfect God to teach us, then perhaps we’d be much better off.
10. I used to believe that the SBC believed that the Bible was inerrant and infallible, but now I believe that like many denominations the SBC interprets and translates certain verses to suit their theology. We all do it, we want to believe something so we use the Bible to justify that belief – whether it is in context or not. When we do this though, it goes against any statement of belief about the authority of that document. We are what we eat, in a sense.
11. I used to believe that worship meant singing a few songs about God, but now I believe that worship comes from following and obeying God. We truly worship when we do what he has asked us to do. Don’t worry though, this could be by singing… but it may also be by feeding the homeless, being a good steward, etc.
12. I used to believe that people went to Hell because of their sins, but now I believe that Scripture never once says that people go to Hell for their sins. In fact, there is Scripture that says that Jesus covered the sins of the world. Why then do people go to Hell? The single verse in Scripture that talks about why people go to Hell says that people who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire. Is that because of their sin or because of their rejection of Christ as Savior or perhaps something else?
13. I used to believe that Scripture taught us to tithe, but now I see that the tithe was a system for the Jewish nation. They had a class of priests who were not allow to own any possessions. The Jews also had a sin problem. To deal with these two things, the Jews had to make a sacrifice and the priests ate that sacrifice. But Jesus was the final sacrifice and he summoned the Kingdom of Priests (us). It seems rather absurd to me to think that we need to continue the practice of tithing, when the problem of sin has been dealt with and since all believers are Priests.
14. I used to believe that fellowship happened by sitting next to others without any interaction, but now I believe that fellowship happens when we consider one-anothers needs, when we encourage one-another, when we teach one-another, etc. Fellowship is not running around pews for 30 seconds trying to shake as many hands as possible. Fellowship is much deeper and much more meaningful.
15. I used to believe that going to seminary made me a better Christian, but now I believe that going to seminary only made me more knowledgeable (and not necessarily about the ways of Christ). I am very grateful for the education I received from The College at Southeastern. However, it did not make me a better Christian, it did not make me more important than the other Children of God. Although, before I went, I truly believed that it was important and required to be a good Christian. Since then, I have learned that God’s expectations are not often the same as man’s expectations.
So, I hope you enjoyed my two meme’s. If you would like to do your own, I would recommend combinding them into a “This I Used to Believe… This I Now Believe” format. If you decide to to this, then please post a link in my comments so that I may read them. I look forward to hearing from you.