Friday, October 3, 2008

"Man, I Just Believe The Bible"

"About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Heb 5:11-14)

"Man, I don't know. I just believe the Bible."
"This deep stuff you're talking about is just way more than I think God wants us to know."
"I just preach Christ and him crucified."
"I just feel like God wants us to minister to the hurting."

I heard some of these things from someone last week. I have heard this from people before. I have heard this for so long, that I'm thinking of creating a categorization for this "uber-simplistic" school of theology. If anyone has any ideas, I'm open to them.

I was going to approach this subject (which has been brewing in my head for some time) in a traditionally Reformed way, but at the last minute decided not to. In other words, I hope to hold your attention and make you laugh a time or two. (Unless you disagree with me, then you'll just think I'm ranting.)

It seems like I have been at war with this school of thought which favors simplicity and milk over theology and meat for as long as I have believed that God is a very important person. It is a point of pride for these people that they have started on the "ABCs" of the Gospel and stopped at "G". Heaven forbid someone else moves on from the milk and has to reach, instead, for a bottle of A-1 and a knife!

Here we go: when you deride someone for delving into the "deep things" of the Gospel, or when you criticize someone's interest in high theology, soteriology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, etc, you are literally taking on the Apostles and authors of Scripture themselves!

The very same Apostle who wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" also wrote an entire book of high theology about what exactly that meant (aka "Paul's Letter to the Romans"). Incidentally, Paul explains in the verse before what he meant by knowing "nothing," and what he meant was that "I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom." Here, Paul is referring to his method of communication to the church in Corinth. He was not saying that believers shouldn't know anything except the raw materials of the Gospel. If this were the case and Paul only desired his readers to pursue simplicity of faith and raw, milk-like belief, then let me suggest that Paul would have been enabling sinful attitudes by setting pen to parchment for his letters to the churches in Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, etc. These letters are rife - I repeat, rife - with soteriology, Christology, and other fancy high-falootin' theological concepts that many today consider disdainful.

Or let me approach this from another way: if you love someone, don't you want to know them as well as you possibly can? How would my wife feel if I came home from work each day and said, "well you're my wife, I think we can agree on that, but don't tell me any more about yourself. Oh wait, what's that? You have these photo albums showing me all the things you did in High School and College? Not interested. What's that? Family history? Keep it to yourself." I hope you can all see that there is a patent absurdity - perhaps even a contradiction - in saying that you love someone and desire to know nothing more than the most superficial facts about them.

If we love God, then we ought to desire to know Him as much as possible, and you don't get to know God to the exclusion of His acts in history. This goes for the particulars of God and his character, too. If God tells us that He is just and saves some and not others - by His free choice and good pleasure, then to say so out loud is not shameful - it is liberatingly true!

Now this way of thinking is clearly nothing new. Almost every week, when I discuss this frustration of mine with my elders at church, every one of them let me know that they are having the same sort of frustrating encounters with people week in and week out.

Let me suggest that this anti-intellectual plague which is sweeping the churches of our land (and has probably always been there in some measure) is not only un-biblical, but is exactly the opposite attitude which will bring the church through the cultural storms which lie ahead. How can we say, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" if we aren't willing to ask ourselves how it is that this can happen, or how it even works. I'm not saying that an exhaustive understanding of every aspect of God and his salvation is necessary (we can only know as much as has been revealed in Scripture), but I am saying that you are in direct disobedience of Hebrews 5:11-14 and you are ignoring the example of the Apostles if you stubbornly - even pridefully - refuse to go any further than "Jesus loves me, this I know." Especially if there is more, and the Bible tells you so.


  1. This is not about this post, I just want to know if the Rev. Stellman will be posting something about the Leithart thing, and/or if he plans to submit a complaint to GA.

  2. Andrew,

    Go to and you'll find links to both reports a few posts down.

  3. Keeping with the milk motif, and playing off of breastfeeding, you could call the category "Sucky Theology"

  4. Wrestling with theology—a.k.a., the things of God—challenges us. It is hard, and it rebukes us when we reflect on what it means for our lives. Most Christians live an idolatrous version of Christianity, in which salvation is about me—my belief in God, how it makes me feel, what I think a religious lifestyle is, etc—not about the triune God and our great savior, Jesus Christ. We are all guilty of worshipping the Christ of our imaginations rather than the Christ of Scripture.

    If I truly understand the things of God, then I must necessarily change the way I think and live. It means confrontation to my status quo. Who wants that?


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