There is much to say about the Bible and the answers it provides. Scholars have debated many issues over the past 2,000 years. Suffice it to say that men of goodwill differ. People read various passages and take different things away from what they just read.
We will present a point of view (or several) and cite scripture and in some cases other thoughts and points of view. We do not claim to be the know-all be-all. That is the nature of God the Father, not man. The responsibility we have towards one another is to love and respect each other. Our eternal souls are in the hands of God, not man.
Jesus prayed that His church (called out ones) will be one. This is recorded in John 17:21. Paul pointed out the church is one body with many members in 1 Cor 12:15. In Mark 9:38 – 40 and Luke 9:49 – 50 the disciples asked Jesus to stop someone from driving out demons in Jesus’ name who did not follow their group. Jesus refused.
We are reminded in Colossians 1:25 I have become its (the church) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness– 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints (all believers). 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Those of us who have Christ in us should make ourselves servants in the body of believers. We are to take whatever skills God has graciously given us and use them to further His kingdom, not our own.
The Long Journey To My Conclusions
As with most posts, I’m sure some people will differ from me. However, I will give my view on this issue by starting with my own background. Our life experiences form our opinions and this particular one is personal for me. There is an old saying I like. “Nothing matters until it becomes personal.” Knowing that I will attempt to be as objective as possible.
I became a Christian at 29 years of age. Before that, I studied various religions as a layman. I would have called myself an agnostic, not an atheist. After I became a believer I ended up in a Fundamentalist Bible study at work. Later I started to attend the teachers’ church. Fundamentalists hammer the Bible as the authoritative word of God and often quote 2 Timothy 2:15. I took that seriously and started to notice some contradictions. I will not go into them in this post but I did start asking questions to the irritation of the pastor.
After a few years, and taking college courses in Christianity it came to a head. I found that I had to leave the church I was attending. I bounced around for a while visiting various denominations from Baptist to Lutheran and all types in between. I landed in a non-denominational church that taught along the lines of Reformed Theology. This church was small and run by a well-known apologetics expert and author. His focus was on cults, the occult, logic, philosophy, and other religions.
Rather than show ire towards my questions he welcomed them. He liked that I was pursuing a logical and consistent view of the Christian faith. He soon invited me to what he called “round table discussions.” There were between 6 and 10 well-educated pastors, most with PhDs in attendance from various denominations. I was the only person there without a degree.
We became very close and I even ended up doing bodyguard work for him in coordination with the FBI. He had written the book The Islamic Invasion and held debates with Muslim leaders. This put him on the death list with Islamic radicals. However, I am getting sidetracked. The point is I spent a lot of time with people who understood differences in minute detail.
In one meeting I was introduced to the arguments relating to Supralapsarianism, Infralapsarianism, and Supralapsarianism. These may be terms you never heard before just as I had not heard them before that day. Being quite frank with these specially trained men I asked for an explanation of the terms. They did not look down their noses but launched into an explanation and then started to debate the positions which helped to further clarify the definitions.
In short, the terms are related to the order in which God decreed certain things to happen. In brief, one example would be, did God decide Jesus would save mankind from their sins before or after the fall of man into sin? I sat back and listened intently. I’m not sure how much time passed but it seemed significant. In the end, someone turned to me and asked what I thought. My answer shocked some sitting at the round table.
I said (and this is a paraphrase as it was many years ago), simply put it seems to me you are arguing about something that cannot be proven one way or the other. You are seeking to answer a question relating to time but you are discussing it in relation to God who is timeless.
What I realized is that:
A. Intelligent men can get caught up in nonsensical arguments.
B. Well-intentioned men with a common faith in Jesus Christ can differ.