"I think..."

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by glfredrick, May 16, 2011.

  1. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    I was ruminating (otherwise called "thinking") about the issue of "I think..." over the weekend.

    It would seem that while our ability to think is unquestioned, and that we use thought to process information is also unquestioned, that using the two words "I think..." in regards to our deciding God's actions, theology, etc., is in large part where we get into trouble. It is, in essence, the sin of Genesis 3. Eve, upon hearing the convincing argument of the deceiver, in essence said, "I think..." then proceeded to go against the sure and truthful revelation of God.

    Would it not be better to eliminate the "I think..." part of our theology and doctrine (which leads to all sort of heretical and human-centered efforts) and rather "know" what it is that God has said, with our reasoning abilities being devoted to correct interpretation, in context, with a proper hermeneutic, so as to DO what God says rather than "think" what we wish?
     
  2. revmwc

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    You you don't want us to "I think the bible makes it clear" you would rather us say "The Bible is clear"?
     
  3. glfredrick

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    "I think..." that the Bible IS clear. :applause:

    Thinking aside, the Bible is indeed clear IF we do our part and learn the language(s), process the grammar according to the grammar rules of the original language, analyze the context of the pericope, know what is being said to whom, and by whom, understand the genre of the literature we are reading, and discern, prayerfully through the Holy Spirit, the intent of the original writer.

    Such is what commentary writers do (for the most part) and why we turn to them for insight. We DO turn to them (presuming that many of us lack the totality of the skill list above), right?

    The "I think...." issue goes much deeper than, "I think the Bible makes it clear." The "I think..." issue is more along the lines of, "The Bible says..., but I think..." I find the practice RAMPANT among God's people.
     
  4. HAMel

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    When people say, "I Think"..., what they are really saying to others is, "I Know"!

    Like in, "I think that if you mess with that rattle snake, you gonna get bit."
     
  5. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, because it is the place where we make an attempt to interpret what we believe God has said and convert that to belief/action.

    Inexperience with the scripture; inexperience with the ways of God; lack of maturity in the faith blind spots caused by our experiences, biases, desires, religious upbringing/influences, denominationalism, rebellion against God; pride; etc. can often lead us astray – even with the best, sincere intentions.

    Speaking for myself alone, when I say “I think…”, it is intended to be an expression of humility. I am explicitly pointing out that I recognize my knowledge and understanding is far from complete and I am more than willing to consider other viewpoints in order to grow in faith and knowledge. I am saying that I don’t have enough confidence in my understanding that I’m going to say “the scripture teaches…” or “God has revealed…” Please note that this doesn’t mean I have no confidence in my opinions. There are many, many places where I believe the scripture is explicitly clear and I’ll say so with confidence. There are other places (like eschatology, manifestations of spiritual gifts, the identity of the mysterious “Sons of God” in Genesis 6, etc.) where I have some opinions, perhaps even very strong opinions, but I’m not going to be so arrogant as to claim that my view is the fullness of God’s revelation.

    I believe her sin was not in “thinking” about God, nor considering the counter-argument of the deceiver, but instead committing to a course of action in rebellion against God.

    God wants us to be participatory in our relationship with Him, considering His words and truth and being convinced that His way is best. This is the realm where faith operates.

    In short, no I don’t “think” so. :D

    Just off of the top of my head, I’d say:

    1.) We are created with minds to process and consider the ways of God. We cannot live obedient lives of faith without serious thought to guide our actions. Discipleship requires thought.

    2.) We cannot “know” something without interacting with it in an appropriate basis of thought and experience. We cannot know theology without considering all of the ins and outs of what our understanding of God entails. We cannot know God without thinking about God, just like we cannot know another human without using our minds to think about them and what they reveal to us.

    3.) We cannot exercise discernment to decide truth from error without thinking. There’s no other way around it.

    4.) God has revealed Himself in many ways through scripture, with many different kinds of literature, that requires thought and effort to understand. Furthermore, Jesus taught in parables, which are latch onto the imagination and reveal their truths though careful thinking about all aspects of the story.

    So how do we determine the “correct interpretation,“ the context, and the “proper hermeneutic” without thinking?

    On the surface, it may sound like I’m disagreeing with you, but I think you are hitting on something very important.

    What I’m talking about (and I think you’re talking about) is having the intention to be obedient to whatever God reveals, not sitting around engaging in idle speculation.

    Theology that is not tied to active discipleship is worthless and often destructive. The call of Jesus is to follow Him and be a learner, so we can learn to do everything He has demonstrated and commanded. We are called to personal and corporate transformation through our actions, so that our minds and bodies are renewed and repurposed for the Kingdom of God.

    Jesus does not call anyone to an ivory-tower faith, disconnected from active participation in the ever-expanding Kingdom of God.
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    Oh, I've misunderstood you.

    I didn't realize you were talking about people are knowingly choosing against what they think the Bible teaches. That's simply rebellion (sin).

    If that is a person's practice, why do you assume they are one of God's people?

    Why should we think that someone can call Jesus "Lord" and not even be interested in doing what He says?

    They may have been baptized or be told an incomplete gospel of atonement (not a biblical call to discipleship), but if they have no interest in obedience, you can be fairly confident they are not true believers.
     
  7. DHK

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    I preached a message on the new birth yesterday morning. There was no way that I would ever use the expression "I think," when Jesus said, "You must," It was clear and forceful message on salvation, one on which I would dare not say "I think," but always, "This is what God wants you to do," or "This is what God says."
     
  8. Baptist Believer

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    You yanked my quote out of context which completely misrepresents what I said.

    I've been around here long enough to know that there are plenty of people who don't know the different between dogmatism and studied conviction and assume that any expression of humility and willingness to listen to another's position is certain proof of one's spiritual immaturity and/or unbelief.

    I very carefully made the point in my previous post that I know many things to be true and will declare them boldly.

    For you to contrast my position, where I gave examples of the kinds of things where I usually say "I think", with your allegedly bold declaration of the nature of the new birth, is an example of the worst kind of "debate" tactic found here. I sincerely hope you have merely misread my previous post and made an error, since you are a moderator and are supposed to be an example of how to conduct oneself in these forums.

    Here it is in context, with the point I made which explicitly demonstrates your misrepresentation of my position:
     
  9. glfredrick

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    My thinking process on "I think..." goes deeper than the discussion here so far. It extends to issues like our choice in salvation, etc. I find the very concept of "I think..." while standing before the throne of Almighty God rather a foolish endeavor, yet that seems to be what many argue for. Should we not rather plead, "Oh Sovereign Lord, what do YOU think?"
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    I'd like to see you develop those thoughts in this thread.

    Certainly we should desire to know what God thinks most of all, but shouldn't we also "reason together" with God?

    The hallmark of a disciple of Jesus is not passivity, but engagement.
     
  11. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Thats funny Guy because just last summer I was in court against a neighbor who on two separate occasions jumped up & tried to circumvent the judge & told the judge what he felt must happen. Guess what happened next? LOL
     
  12. DHK

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    Perhaps I didn't read your post carefully enough. I apologize.
    OTOH, I do believe that a preacher ought to be able to come to any passage of Scripture and study it carefully enough so that he can declare to his people: This is what the Scripture says:...

    Right now I am helping a church finding a pastor. One of the previous pastors that they had was more of a teacher than a preacher. He would expound a passage, give two or three different or possible interpretations, and then leave it to the congregation to choose which one is correct or which one they would prefer to believe. The lady sitting behind me was always frustrated: "But what do you believe!!" she would mutter under her breath. It is not right for a pastor to offer a smorgasbord of doctrine to the congregation and tell them to choose whatever you want. He must come with conviction and feed the sheep, giving them first the milk, and then the meat, eventually teaching the whole counsel of God, which does not come in different opinions.
     
  13. sag38

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    "It extends to issues like our choice in salvation, etc."

    If you don't agree with G's "right" interpretation then you will be told that you have a no name theology and summarily accused of "thinking" rather than accurately dividing the word of God. Hope I'm wrong but based on past performance "I think" my interpretation is correct.
     
  14. glfredrick

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    I'm not in this for the ulterior motive like some posters...

    I'm primarily interested in exploring the "I think..." topic. PLEASE, let's don't drag this into another C/A dogfight. I'll leave if that happens.

    That being said, let me respond to your post. IF "I think..." leads to those theologies, then the topic is pertinent. If "I think..." means that we stand before God and tell God what's up, then we will rightfully get what we deserve. One of the things we are not accustomed to in America (or much of the rest of the world these days) is a sovereign leader. The very idea of "kingship" would be better received by those who lived under a monarch who had both the right and the power to say "off with your head..." if he or she was not utterly pleased with you. We've carried our concept of democratic rights into the camp of God, with disastrous results. God is clearly KING and sovereign, with both right and power to do what He wishes.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    I appreciate this. I'm sorry if I reacted a bit harshly. I've grown very sensitive to being misquoted around here.

    Generally, I agree. In the context of preaching, I think that is very important. However I think it is also important for the preacher to say to his people from time to time that there are things that we don't completely understand. I think that frees people to ask good questions and pursue God. In my Sunday School class, I routinely learn quite a bit from the "students" in the class (really, I consider all of us students of the word even though I am the primary teacher) because I benefit from their insight and experience.

    I have also stated occasionally that I don't know what to make a a couple of verses and have had the class struggle through it with me and have learned quite a bit. If Peter can confess that some of Paul's writings are very difficult, then we should be able to do the same without being condemned without being considered weak in faith, intelligence, or knowledge of scripture.

    Since the Bible studies I teach go through whole books of the Bible without skipping a verse, I'm going to run into quite a few difficult passages that most preachers and Sunday School literature writers avoid because the answers aren't always politically correct (in terms of church culture) and/or clear.

    As you illustrate, preaching and teaching are two different things. Certainly preaching involves teaching, but it is more than teaching. Preaching calls for a response.

    I don't think (there's that word) that there's anything wrong with presenting multiple points of view so that the congregation understands the issues, but the preacher should press forward with his convictions regarding the matter and call for a response based on those convictions.
     
  16. glfredrick

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    Do you understand the difference between offering that there are multiple points of view on some doctrinal subjects, with this scholar saying this and that scholar saying that and "I think..."?

    When we present multiple points of interpretation, then say, "I think" that it is this, how do we justify our thinking? Is it tradition, a priori presupposition, actual biblical scholarship, or merely another way of saying, "I like this better than the alternatives"?
     
  17. DHK

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    Harold Camping might not agree with you there. :rolleyes:
    But in teaching a Bible Class I can see your point. There are some difficult verses or passages, some of which we will never know the answer to until we reach eternity.
    There is no one that learns more than the teacher learns--always being challenged by sharp-minded students.
    I agree, especially in the context of Bible Study.
     

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