Can Christians always tell when they are wrong about doctrine?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by BobRyan, Dec 25, 2007.

  1. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    Paul argues in Phill 3 that he was running full tilt engaged in persecuting the saints and considered himself "without guilt" at the time he was doing it.



    He appears to have been genuinely surprised when Christ halted his mission on the road to Damascus.

    However on this board I have had some people PM me and say that in their walk with Christ they have heard some doctrine taught a certain way but after coming to this board and seeing both sides they are open to other possibilities.

    However I think that is pretty rare.

    Or is it?

    Can Christians even tell when a debate point is not "going well" when the details just are not holding up? OR is it our lot to simply tell ourselves stories that sound like "well this is not going well from a details-and-facts POV but I must be right because I always heard it this way and people I respect believe this doctrine my way"??

    Does the Catholic after debating on this board for a few cycles say to his/herself "After seeing the other side's POV I have to agree that if you try this sola-scriptura, Purgatory is dead wrong"?? Do you think they really say that to themselves -- or do they simply say "no I was right the whole time".

    Another example - take a position where you have changed your view on some topic -- in the years BEFORE you changed your mind were you really thinking "I think I am wrong on this" for all those years?

    Or is it more the case that "at certain moments" in your life you are open to discovering that you are wrong on some few points -- and then you/we go back to "locked-in" mode?

    Which is it?

    Thoughts?

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  2. Darron Steele

    Darron Steele
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    I think the point Paul is making is that he followed the Judaic Law flawlessly.

    I think all the above occur.

    I think that for the most part, Christians are not aware of an incorrect religious opinion or they would reject it.

    Less often, I think an unwillingness to accept having been wrong motivates people to continue to accept religious opinions that they feel `off' about. They want to vindicate themselves.

    Other times, I think they put their faith in people. They esteem their group's `faithful members' and trust them even when they themselves feel `off.' Or, they want to vindicate their choice of group; they want to show themselves and/or others that their group is the better than others.

    Sometimes, disdain for people motivates people to continue to accept erroneous religious opinions. The thinking is `If I/we reject that religious opinion, I/we would have more in common with those people.' To avoid that, they continue to advocate a religious opinion they do not have complete confidence in.

    Sometimes, I think the person is bound and determined that s/he is not wrong. S/he may realize that the view held makes no sense, another view makes more sense, but s/he is never wrong. Groups do this too: `Our group has never made a significant mistake and never will.'

    Now, have I changed on a doctrine? Oh yes.

    For instance, I once believed that one could rebel against the Lord in baptism and still be saved; I no longer believe that, although I believe that all believers will be saved whether baptized properly or not. This view of mine was refined by debate.

    For instance, I once believed that evolution and Scripture were not mutually exclusive. I no longer believe that.

    For instance, I once believed that I should go to church where they seemed to have the best understanding of Scripture on the various debates of modern times. I now believe the Hebrews 10:24-5 purpose of encouraging love and good deeds is the central criteria for whom to assemble with.

    For instance, I once believed that New Testament-era congregations were denomination-like with a uniform procedure of assemblies and a sizable body of agreed-on distinctly religious tenets. I no longer believe that.

    One time, I did have a feeling that I was wrong about something. In college, I took an opinion on almost every debated congregational matter that I could find. I would then craft up these arguments that were intended to make anyone who disagreed with me look stupid. Mind you, I would never say anything directly injurious to the person, but after delivery, the person would have felt put down. I was always uncomfortable every time I read 1 Timothy 6:3-4; I knew the debates I was fascinated with had no relevance to godly living. After a very bumpy ride over several years, I got my attitude adjusted, and reformed according to that passage.
     
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I think all of us have changed a belief or two over the years. About ten years ago, I underwent a radical re-thinking of everything we Baptist do in presenting the gospel. I looked at our witnessing and soul-winning methods,even the very language we use in presenting the gospel. I looked at invitations and altar calls. I looked at our ecclesiology. My goal was to measure everything we do and say against the scripture.

    Some of it did not pass that test.

    I have changed the way I do personal witnessing. I have even changed the way I give my personal testimony.

    On the other hand, because discussions on the Baptist Board have made me study the word more intensely, I am more confident of my basic beliefs, particularly in the area of soteriology, than I was before. That's because of the constant drumbeat of the same challenge repeated over and over on the BB--"do you have scripture for that?"
     
  4. BobRyan

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    A neighbor of mine recently confessed that he has some doctrinal views that he consideres "up for debate" where "good men differ".

    He has other doctrinal views that he holds to and "even if you should show me convincingly from scripture that I am wrong - I would believe this doctrine anyway".

    I think what he meant was "if you could present a rock solid scriptural argument that I am wrong I would assume that you simply know more about the Bible and that IF I had enough Bible knowledge I could find your errors and show that my firmly held belief is still correct".

    I am wondering if we all are not guilty of that same kind of segmentation -- where we are open to some things changing but on other points - no matter how decided the evidence we would hold to a certain view anyway.

    I wonder if Paul was that way when it came to his firm belief in the infallabiliity of his religious leaders and the "error" he thought he clearly saw in the "followers of the carpenter from Nazareth". Maybe the Jewish Christians of Acts 21 who accused their fellow Jewish Christian "Paul" of teaching others to disregard scripture -- felt that same way.

    BTW Acts 21 is kind of interesting because they say "WE said that the gentiles just need to abstain from fornication, and food offerred to idols in our last meeting" so this was not a group of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem trying to make Jews out of Gentiles.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
    #4 BobRyan, Dec 26, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2007
  5. BobRyan

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    That is a very good point. I have to agree that the BB debates have been beneficial overall for me as well.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  6. BobRyan

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    Still you have admit that both of those paths are pretty scary and humbling.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. trustitl

    trustitl
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    I don't think a Christian always knows that they are wrong. Does a child always know they are wrong when they do something innapropriate? If they did, they wouldn't need a mom and dad.

    A father who has a child's heart will see that child slowly mature and become what he should. What we need to remember is that it is part of God's design that we "learn" by seeking him. This is what he desires. If what he really wanted was us to have all knowledge the moment we were born, it would have happened.

    But the fact is, God wants us to need him. I think the BB is a good place to learn how to have brothers and sisters that we think are wrong. Some of you think I am a kook, but if you're a child of God we're brothers like it or not.

    I have come to see that the truth is like a box. In it is truth, which if I walk in, I am free. I used to have a lot bigger box than I do now because I had things in it that weren't truth. It was bondage. I won't say what some of those things were because I know some of you don't see it that way. I'll try explain those on other threads :thumbs: .

    After a time of what I call legalism, God used a number of circumstances to help me see myself better. I once said to my wife "I sometimes feel so liberal". She responded "you mean liberated". Praise the Lord. :godisgood:
     
  8. Gerhard Ebersoehn

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    Can Christians always tell when they are wrong about doctrine?

    You may already be tired of this:
    "Das Christentum steht und faellt mit der Wirklichkeit der Auferstehung Jesu von den Toten durch Gott. Es gibt im Neuen Testamenten keinen Glauben der nicht a priori bei der Auferstehung Jesu einsetzt. ... Christlicher Glaube der nicht Auferstehungsglaube ist, kann darum weder Christlich noch Glaube genannt werden." (Juergen Moltmann)

    Christian Faith that is not Resurrection-Faith, can neither be Christian, nor Faith!

    I test doctrine whether it exalts Christ, and Him, in His resurrection from the dead.
     
  9. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon
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    Can you tell when you are wrong about doctrine?

    Can I tell when I am wrong about doctrine?

    Sometimes yes. Usually no.

    When someone tells us we are wrong about doctrine, it takes practice not to take it personally. I personally have had a lot of practice with people telling me I am wrong on doctrine on this board. I don't remember ever changing a position because of that.
     
  10. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
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    Don't know the depth intended in this statement, BUT I can almost see "doctrine" here!!

    I refer of course to the modern liberalism that is, IMNSHO, destroying the true church and making a mockery of His Word! It's just basically the old story that satan used -- "Did God REALLY say--?"

    As to the OP, I can't say that I've actually changed any prior beliefs, but I do understand better some of the opposing views; and re-inforced other beliefs. I won't be so dogmatic as to say that I won't change, but so much of the "debate(?) here is nothing more than "I'm right, you're wrong---Na Nanny Goo Goo---Oh, and my daddy can lick your daddy too!!" (sigh-----), that it may be a long time before enough substance appears to challenge my convictions.

    Probably a VERY BIG reason many will vehemently hang on to a belief, even when provided with contradicting evidence, is that old monkey-on-the-back, PRIDE!
     
  11. EdSutton

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    Apparently not very often, anyway!

    And even after I've been so helpful as to have taken the time to show them why they are so obviously and blatantly wrong, no less! :rolleyes: :D

    [​IMG]

    Ed
     
    #11 EdSutton, Dec 26, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2007
  12. trustitl

    trustitl
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    I am glad you are able to see the doctrine in my statement. Not a lot of people would. Some people would think that I am saying that we can just go and do what we want because they don't understand liberty. I am amazed at the way sin is becoming less and less a part of my life as I have turned from "being made perfect in the flesh" to walking in the Spirit. Oh oh I just read the second paragraph :tear: .

    No liberalism here. If you only knew...

    Gal. 3:5 "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
    Gal 5:16 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
     
  13. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    How long ago was that?
     
  14. Gerhard Ebersoehn

    Gerhard Ebersoehn
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    Trusitl
    "Gal. 3:5 "He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?""

    GE
    Which is your answer, Trustitl? I guess I know, but I'll tell you what mine is - 'he doeth it by the works of the law!
     
  15. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    Can Christians always tell when they are wrong about doctrine?

    They should be able to if they are in the Word of God daily, testing the spirits, and making sure it is the Holy Spirit they are following.

    I think the problem comes up when some people confuse doctrine, or standards, with preferences...
     
  16. David Lamb

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    It is many years since I learned German, so I may well not have got the meaning right. Is it something like:
    "Christianity stands and falls with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead through God. There is in the New Testament no a priori belief that does not start with the resurrection of Jesus.....Christian belief which is not "resurrection belief" is neither Christian, nor belief."

    Please correct me - I will not take offence!
     
  17. Sgt. Fury

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    Yes, I believe that anyone can determine if a held doctrine or belief is right or wrong, simply by determining what the Scriptures say about the subject and comparing it with the held belief.

    Others have made excellent observations so far in relation to the OP, citing trust in men, loyalty to family, etc for people holding to the things they have been taught.

    I've heard the term "cognitive dissonance" used to describe the conflict in one's mind when a held belief is met with evidence to the contrary. When this happens, a person must choose to:
    1. reject the held belief in favor of the evidence, or
    2. reject the evidence in favor of the held belief.

    Most seem to do the latter.

    I have in the past surrendered many things I had been taught in favor of what is written in the Scriptures. In doing so, I alienated myself from many friends, and a few family members. A man cannot serve two masters, after all.

    I think the problem lies in the difference between matters of faith, and matters of opinion. All can agree on matters of faith. It is the opinions of men that have brought about the divided state of "Christendom" we see around us in the world, even here on these boards.
     
  18. yahoshea

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    Testing doctrine

    One of the most dificult aspects of discussing doctrine is that very few people can agree on a set pf proper principles to interpret scripture. Because of this I generally ask a few simple questions.
    1 Does the doctrine make Jesus a more viable example for us ir not?
    2 Does the doctrine contradict the attributes or character of God?
    3. Does the doctine make it easier for you to fulfill the plan of God for your life?
    If you get the wrong answers for these questions, beware the doctrine.
     
  19. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    What about using the basic principles of exegesis to determine the meaning?

    1. The intent of the author for his primary audience
    2. The use of the same topic by the same author in his other works.
    3. The use other authors make of this same topic.
    4. The customs and traditions of the period that would have influenced the reader's understanding of the text.
    5. Marking the "inconvenient details" of the text that don't fit our pre-bias.

    etc.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  20. yahoshea

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    I agree that those a e a good starting point, but as I said you will find many that will start out agreeing with these only to drop them when these principles begin to dispute a pet doctrine. Here is an article I wrote some time ago that may add a bit more to those principles for you.
    Honest Bible Study


    Do you seek to understand your rich Judeo-Christian history? Do you seek to know God’s plan for all men and you personally? Do you seek to know the character of Christ and become like him?
    Your motives in researching the word will strongly effect whether you will follow these principles or not.


    We all interpret whatever we read. Interpretation is the basis under which we comprehend what is being said. In order to really be honest with the Word it is necessary to have certain logical rules for interpretation. These rules are commonly called Hermeneutics or principles of exegesis. They are based on logic and very simple concepts of the christian walk.

    The most common form of interpretation used today is called “Cut and Paste Theology”. In this method a person can take a scripture out of context put it with several others, disregarding any proper hermeneutical principles and make a doctrine out of it. Not understanding the culture or definitions of words. Using ambiguous scriptures that are misinterpreted to contradict very clear scriptures. With this type of “scholarship” a person can prove just about anything from scripture. When one actually looks at these doctrines with proper principles they completely fall apart. This is not to say that there are not scriptures that can stand on their own but always must also stand within the proper interpretive process. In otherwords they need no other scriptures for their meaning to be very clear.
    First we must be honest with ourselves and our nature ---
    1. We are easily deceived - Jeremiah 17/9 - “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? We must be willing to set aside our preconceived ideas and let God speak to us. We must be willing to set aside our pride and fear in our hearts. Our fear of being proven wrong. We must have enough courage to trust God that if the truth stands in contradiction to what we have always believed then we must love the truth more then our historical beliefs.
    II Thessalonians 2/10 - 13 “.... And with all the deception of wickedness for those that perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved....” We must love the truth no matter how it upsets our apple cart. The word must be the final authority no matter how it shakes our traditions or doctrines.
    Most Christians will proclaim this until you touch a pet doctrine that they are afraid to change.
    2. The purpose and inspiration of Scripture -
    II Timothy 3/16 and 17 - “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
    ( This comes right back to the motive. The truths we derive from scripture must train us for righteousness and equip us for good works.)

    We start from a premiss that the “original scriptures” as written by the prophets and apostles were inspired by God Himself. No particular later translation has inspiration. There are good and bad translations. Those who penned the scriptures wrote exactly what God wanted to say and that God wants us to know the truth. God used the personalities of the authors, situations, natural realm and circumstances for the purpose of teaching us. The purpose of scripture is to win the lost and to teach the saved how to become like Christ and walk with God as He did.
    We must also come to grips with the fact that one book cannot contain everything about God. Not even this magnificent testimony in scripture can tell us all the facts about the actions of Jesus on this earth.
    John 21:25
    And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

    Even great knowledge about the scriptures cannot take the place of personal interaction and relationship with God. You can study all the scriptures about salvation. You can read all the great teachers on the subject, but untill you experiance the sweet grace of God and feel the burden of sin lifted from your soul and the first intimate touch of the Holy Spirit, you do not know salvation. The word is a teaching tool to bring us to relationship with Christ.

    3. In the past 100 years there have been very significant archeological finds that directly impact our understanding of scripture such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Keep you research material current.
    Now that we have established a basis to begin, let’s talk about the fundamentals of understanding scripture.
    Here is a list of principles to use to properly use, translate, and understand scripture.
    1. Scripture must interpret scripture. No one has a private interpretation but all proofs must come from the word itself. A good idea and safety is to use scriptural terms to understand the meaning of a verse.
    2. It does not matter what we believe to be true or how we feel about a subject. All that matters is what can be clearly and properly proven in the word.
    3. Spend a majority of time in clear understandable scripture. Never base a belief on ambiguous scriptures.
    4. There is only one truth. Never base a doctrine on an interpretation of scriptures that causes contradiction with other clear scriptures. If there is a seeming contradiction, this indicates a need for further research to ascertain the truth. A clear scripture always supersedes and ambigous one and does not cause a contradiction.
    5. When attempting to understand a difficult scripture follow these guidelines --
    A. Form a hypothesis of what you think it may mean then test it. this really is automatic, since we will come to an idea by simply reading the verse in question.
    B. Does your idea fit the immediate context? This is the first and formost challenge and the one most often missed.
    C. Does your idea fit the general over all tenor or context of scripture and the heart of God. This can be a bit more difficult since some Christians have false ideas about the heart of God and His character.
    D. Is the language figurative or literal. In many cases a little common sence can be applied here. For instance no biologist in the world is going to confirm the existance of a seven headed beast as is mentioned in Revelations. This is obviously a figuritive story.
    E. Understand the historical, geographical or cultural time in which it is written.
    F. Understand who was inspired to write the scripture and to whom it was being written.
    G. Use several translations to avoid the possible bias of one particular translator.
    H. I. Compare scripture with scripture. Compare a questionable scripture to other scriptures that use the same words or speak of the same concepts.
    J. Understand that God uses allegories and parables to teach spiritual truth.
    K. God uses the physical realm to teach about the spiritual realm.
    L. God lives out of our linear time frame and looks at things from an eternal perspective.
    M. The original text was not separated into chapter and verse. Many times one verse is directly related to, or part of, the verses before or after it. Many times they are connected by words such as “for” or “and”. (Furthermore for those more advanced in ancient manuscripts of scripture, much more weight should be placed on older copies of scripture then on more recent copies. (there is less chance for errors in copying)
    P. The original text is written in several languages from several time periods and cultures. Hebrew writers think differently then those of us brought up in the modern world. Their writings also are effected by this difference. We must therefor understand how Hebrews thought and wrote. In the cases of the epistles, you must understand the culture and circumstances of the people to which the letter is written.
    Q. In the case of seeming contradictions where one scripture says one thing and dozens say the opposite go with the preponderance of evidence. In other words side with the majority of clear scripture until the apposing scripture can be properly understood.
    R. In the gospels Jesus uses a form of debate common among rabbis of that time. He would quote a portion of scripture and the Pharisees would know that He implied the entire context of that verse. In this manner he would allow them to see the conclusion he wanted them to see without pointing to it exactly. He led them to the truth without confrontation.

    The biggest test for doctrine is very simple. Does the end result of following this doctrine bring you closer to understanding and becoming like Christ or take you further away from these goals.

    I have saved the most important lesson of all for last.

    BE LED OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

    Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in understanding. The most important reason for study is to have our hearts and character molded to be like Jesus. We do not seek to have only head knowledge but a living truth that transforms lives.
     

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