"I can't believe these people are using the Bible to justify war!" a JW friend of mine said to me after
watching a chat on PALtalk.
It's a fair question no doubt, so I went into my answer with him. I told him that he would
first have to see things from my perspective. My perspective is that when innocent people are suffering, the righteous thing
to do is to help out. I also pointed out the nature of God. God is love and all he does is an act of love. He destroys Sodom
and Gomorrah for love of righteousness for instance. Someone goes to Hell for love of their free choice. Christ dies for the
sins of the world becasue God loves the world.
Then I pointed out that with someone like Saddam Hussein, I thought
it was justifiable to go to war against him. He was murdering and torturing several and if many of these were Muslims then
they were dying without Christ. In that condition, they would go to an eternal Hell and to sit back and let that happen when
we could save prolong their lives so that they might accept would be wrong. He actually had to pause and ended "Well I'll
have to think about that."
It later dawned on me that what he was doing was taking one piece of the view of God and
making it central. He thought love had been contradictory to war so I started with the nature of God being love. Then I went
on to my emphasis on the eternal well-being of many.
At a local theme park here there is an area filled with brain
teasers. One of them has a wooden box with an open top. Outside of it are several blocks of wood of various shapes and sizes.
The goal is to get all the pieces of wood in without any of them sticking out of the top.
I think the way we view truth
is like that. Now I do say truth is absolute. There is only one right way to put together a jigsaw puzzle. Now you might have
some pieces that seem to work together in a puzzle but when you get to the conclusion you'll find those pieces don't fit.
none of the pieces are in isolation. Each of them will effect how you view the others either directly or indirectly. Take
a doctrine like the deity of Christ and compare it to the belief of groups like the JWs that Jesus is the archangel Michael.
If you take my view, which of course that Jesus is God and man, you're going to have to work with your doctrine of God and
your doctrine of man obviously. If you take the other view, your doctrine of angels will have to altered accordingly. (In
light of Hebrews 1, I think the JWs fall hideously short.)
How will natural revelation fit into all of this?
There can be no doubt from passages like Romans 1-2 that there is natural revelation as well as passages like Psalm 8. The
creation reveals God's masterpiece of intelligence and power. Also, people living in countries where there is no gospel don't
have to see the sixth commandment to know that murdering their neighbor isn't really the right thing to do.
young-earth view (Which I don't hold) for instance. It was a problem for Christians and geology at the beginning when we kept
getting findings that the Earth is older than the literal reading of the Bible presents. Some even said that God made the
new to look old but if it isn't really, is God using deception? It's a fair question and how you answer it will effect your
view of Scripture and natural revelation and of course, creation.
Does your view harmonize Scripture also? If you are
pre-trib, for instance, (Which I am not.) you will have to be sure your eschatology can fit all passages of Scripture out
there. If you don't believe in inerrancy that might make things easier (though I do believe in inerrancy of course), but you'll
also have to deal with your view of God's revelation and if God is true in all he reveals.
Some people ask me if I'm
a Calvinist or an Arminian. Now I know I'm going to step on some toes but I've frankly decided the question isn't really worth
it to me. Just preach the gospel and get people saved is my idea. I do think though that Calvinists tend to over-emphasize
the sovereignity of God while Arminians over-emphasize the free-will of man. My idea is that the truth lies somewhere in the
middle but because we can't see time from God's perspective, we just won't get it this side of eternity.
Thus, it is
important how we approach many areas of theology. We will have to deal with implications. I recall approaching the area of
beauty once and in the end having a strong argument for the doctrine of the soul. No doubt, a simple pondering on a simple
passage can lead to great insights and thoughts at times.
And no, I don't think I have the puzzle worked out perfectly.
Theology is a tough area and I doubt I'm the only one who has it all right. I am quite confident though of the bigger pieces
of theology. The problem then is in working out the smaller sections. We can be sure though that God has the puzzle figured
out and when we get home, we will see that the loose ends of this tapestry we couldn't fit together here have woven together
to form a masterpiece.
Until then, we can still try to thread it all together though.