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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Skewing the Data

Yesterday while working with a guy at my part time job, we got into a conversation about theology.  He was interested in whether I was reformed or not.  I will not get into the details of the conversation.  I will say that in the workshops we do through Entrusting Truth, we do not promote any theology per se.  There are a number of reasons for that and reflecting on the conversation last evening and this morning, those reasons applied to our conversation as well.
Skewing the Data
I have a t-shirt that I love, it says Theology Nerd, I be one…  Theology proper is the study of God.  Who He is, what He has revealed about Himself in His Word.  I am deep into that.  The prime data for that investigation is the Word of God.  What happens all too often is that is not the starting place.

The starting place for many of these discussions about who God is and what He has done, is the work of some man.  Now, to be clear I have a lot of those works and benefit from them.  Calvin, Luther, Chafer, Augustine, Strong, Tenney, and many others.  The problem emerges when we read those without having worked through the issues in the Bible ourselves.

If we read those men first, well we probably won’t ever get to the Bible, but if we do, then we will read the Word through a lens that is created by what they have written.  We all have those lenses.  They are created by the books we have read, the sermons we have heard, the Sunday school classes we have attended, and the experiences we have had in our Christian life and fellowship.  We tend to want the Bible to reinforce or validate those lenses.  To the point that sometimes we will misread or misconstrue what the text is saying in order to have it fit through the lenses we bring to the text.

Our challenge is to acknowledge that we come to the text of the Bible with a preconceived idea of what we think it should say.  Then we have to set aside those lenses and let the text speak for itself.  It is only then we will be in a position to grasp what the Lord is revealing about Himself through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I shared that with the man I had the conversation with this evening.  I am curious as to where the conversation will go next.


  1. One thing I do love about the stage of life I am in is that I have no longer a loyalty to a "system" of theology. I have the books, the sermons, the notes, etc. of years of study and reading. I"m in the process of throwing them out, since I don't have room and I'll soon have far less of than I do now.

    I still read (selectively) but realize more and more that b/c Jesus came to reveal the Father I need to study Him, and what was written by the inspired writers called by Him to record what He wants us to know. True, I would be a fool to ignore what has come down through 2000 years of church history, but at the same time the reality that there is such wide disagreement within the Evangelical community indicates I should at least wrestle with the text and these truths myself and with others who can challenge me. I personally find that sometimes "notes" can be distracting to the text, and sometimes I feel actually wrong.

    This morning I was in 2 Timothy 1. I had memorized vs. 9-10 long ago, reviewed it numerous times. But this AM it was new and fresh, and the concept of God having called me in Christ before the beginning of time, back at the beginning when there was not beginning...what a staggering, inscrutable truth; it left me in awe! I never had a chance of not becoming His (thankfully). It took a lot of work in my life, but He got His way. I believe I will explore this, along with innumerable other truths about Him, for all of eternity forward. I'll never attain the full understanding of His grace but it will become more and more glorious all the time. I will love Him more and more - for eternity.

    I'm a little bummed my wife has gotten a head start....

    1. Good stuff. You are right, the focus has to be on Him and our means is His Word, with us guided by the Spirit. The notes and books are means for us to have conversations with those who have struggled through the text before us. To honor their work and our Lord we cannot come to them empty handed, that is not having spent time with the Spirit in the Word first.

      Thanks for sharing your journey.