I became a Christian going into my Sophomore year of High School in 1973. For the first year of my new found faith I attended a United Methodist church. After that I eventually landed in a non-denominational church that was basically a Calvary Chapel church that had yet to call themselves a Calvary Chapel church. The Calvary pastors had, and still do have, a reputation for being great expository and book studies preachers. I would learn to become one myself because of listening to their founder, Chuck Smith, teach through the Bible on cassette. Those were the days of cassettes. You young’uns have no idea what I’m talking about.
Calvary Chapel churches taught a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. So…I believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. In fact, it would be years before I discovered that not everyone believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, with the exception of those “liberal churches”, whom I was told didn’t believe in the Bible anyway so I didn’t need to pay any attention to them.
One day I was perusing the local Christian Book store and I found a book that laid out the four most common interpretations of the end-times. I never knew that there were intelligent, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving people that looked at the same scriptures I did but came to different conclusions!
Now before you go any further, take a few seconds to stop and think. Identify an important theological position you hold that Bible-believing, Jesus-loving people can’t agree on. Wait for it, wait for it…got it? Okay, hold that thought.
Have you ever noticed how often you hear some Christians or pastors say, “The Bible clearly teaches ___________?”
Now I happen to think that there are many things the Bible clearly teaches, but in regards to those important and controversial theological subjects that Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians disagree on, if the Bible was clear on those things, there wouldn’t be disagreement. Think about it, we owe the existence of denominations to the fact that the Bible isn’t always clear.
It all comes back to Biblical hermeneutics. We all believe in the same Bible, we all love Jesus, but we often look at the same passages of scripture and come to different interpretations.
Apparently the Bible isn’t clear about ___________.
It’s okay to say, “I think my interpretation makes more sense.”
It’s okay to say, “I’ve tried to objectively look at the different positions on this and my position is ____________.”
It’s okay to say, “The Bible seems clear to me about ______________, but some of my Bible-believing, Jesus-loving sisters and brother disagree with me.”
It’s okay to say, “I might be wrong about this…but I don’t think I am.”
It’s not okay to say, “The Bible is clear about _____________.”
It’s not okay to say, “Any Bible-believing Christian will agree with me.”
It’s not okay to say, “Bible-believing churches don’t believe _____________.”
The Bible is not always clear, and I’m comfortable with that. I hope you are as well.