Monday, September 02, 2002

Should we be asking these questions?

This is just a small holiday post. I will resume my discussion of dispensationalism tomorrow (Tuesday, September 3).

I wanted to write a small response to a comment from Chris on my Dispensationalism II post. Chris wrote:
Say WHAT?!?

Putting aside the truth or falsity of the distinctive doctrines of dispensationalism, in what way do these doctrines help us to

* Preach the Gospel more clearly and effectively
* Better catechize new believers
* Edify the Church
* Live better, more holy lives?

At best it seems that this is idle speculation which distracts us from the central truths of our faith.
Chris directed his comment at my series on dispensationalism, but I think it is a fair question in general. In other words, (and I do ask myself this regularly) is it profitable to look into theological issues that seemingly have little to do with day-to-day Christianity?

(Aside: that may not actually be the question that Chris is asking, but it is the one I am going to address briefy).

I think the answer is yes, although sometimes I am less than completely certain.

Do they help me preach the Gospel more clearly and effectively? Yes, I think so. As I improve my understanding the entire Bible, I am more confident in relating the nitty-gritty Gospel message. Does it better catechize new believers? Certainly a new believer does not need to be taught the details of dispensationalism. But does it help that those who are teaching have knowledge beyond what is required for that task? I think so.

We recognize this in any education system. Calculus instructors are not drawn from those who took math up to the level of calculus, but rather from those that took math many levels beyond what they are asked to teach. Not a prefect analogy, but not a meaningless one either.

Do these discussions edify the church? They can, although at times exactly the opposite can happen. Do they help us live more holy lives? I think that depends on whether we are seeking to glorify God or ourselves.

God did not give us a simple Bible. Was it because he wanted us to ignore the complicated parts and just concentrate on the simple (and beautiful and vital) Gospel message? I don’t think so—I believe the time we spend (as long as it does not become an idol) trying to discern, from scripture, more of God’s nature, is indeed glorifying.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15, NKJV

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