The great innovators of the world have discovered a key to their inspiration: application. The final step in truly understanding anything is the deployment of what has been learned. Those that advocate the Bible as the best path to discovery of the truth must themselves discover that what Scripture advocates does not work if it remains an untested theory or a difficult to define philosophy. The great composer does not set to work because he or she is inspired, but becomes inspired because they are willing to work. Beethoven, Bach and Mozart had a tenacious work ethic. They would settle down day after day to the job at hand with as much regularity as an accountant settles down each day to his figures. They didn’t waste time waiting for inspiration; they got to work and found it.
Last week a collective anguish and sadness has swept across our country like a wave coming up on the beach. No words can suffice to comprehend the suffering of those families who lost their children to a young man that came with guns into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed seven adults and twenty small children. And no words can explain why such a thing happens or what it means.
If we are truly in pursuit of the truth we are obligated to have our minds constantly disposed to entertain and receive truth wherever we may meet it. Such a disposition expedites the discovery of valuable insights quickly, which is of vital importance when we have so little time on this earth to discover it. The extent of things knowable is so vast and our duration here so short that we must be careful regarding that which is not practical to the improvement of our lives in the here and now and our understanding of what may come after this life. Since there is so much to know and apply in such a very short time it would be the best application of our time and talent to take the straightest and most direct road to the truth that we can.
It is clear that “all men are created equal” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. The Bible asserted equality long before the Declaration of Independence. Biblically speaking there is no difference between the sexes (even Jew or Gentile) as far as God our Creator is concerned. This is certainly true when we think about salvation by the Blood of Christ, as whosoever will, may come and partake of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17). Thank God for the grace that is equally extended to all people, regardless of culture, gender or color of skin, etc.
The season of Advent is here — it officially started Dec. 2, 2012. It is the time of year we focus our attention on the coming of Christ. In our culture it has become a very sentimental thing of looking towards the baby Jesus and His birth. However, it should be so much more than that. The sweet baby asks little of us in terms of surrender or sacrifice. We should look at John the Baptist, who really knew what it was to prepare for the coming of Christ. He wore ugly cloths made from animal skins, not sweaters with sequins and gold bells. He ate locuts, not chocolate and homemade cookies. John the Baptist said “prepare,” he didn’t say “Happy Holidays.” John’s call is a call to full consciousness, a forewarning about the high cost of not being prepared for our meeting with Christ.
Wow! Over 300 families – more than 1000 Eagle River people — were provided a Thanksgiving meal, all from the donated food and manhours of hundreds of volunteers. Who led this gracious event? Our Lord Jesus Christ inspired literally hundreds of people in Eagle River to take strong and dedicated action to help their neighbors in need.
The last step of proper interpretation is application. With whatever we are attempting to learn, practical usage will always be the key to true understanding. Theories and suppositions may provide interesting discussion as they should but until they are proven or disproven in the field they aren’t likely to be of much benefit. Those advocating Christianity must view the Bible as something more than a good philosophy if it is to be viewed as something that can change lives in the most practical of ways.
The ideas that one holds regarding faith and reason will determine one’s outlook about yesterday, today and tomorrow. They determine what one holds to be true about the present condition of the world and whether the future holds destruction or deliverance. The superficial reality is that reason tends to be irreligious and faith tends to lack evidence and facts. Some might contend that a pragmatic approach to theology denigrates the value and necessity of faith, but true ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify; false ideas are those which we cannot. That is not to say that the superficial reality is the best reality that is available, however, it is the one most often seen. There is no gap between faith and reason when properly understood, but the superficial reality is that the gap is substantial and will not be bridged easily. Following the assumption of a gap, it is the gulf that is fixed between what one feels to be true and what is actually true. It may be that the pragmatic method is the most sensible and expeditious way to bridge the gap or settle the dispute between faith and reason so that both can be harnessed to work together as a powerful tandem. The pragmatic method is one that follows a proposition’s espousals to their practical consequences. For someone to suggest that having faith in God is not explainable in a practical way is to be uncertain by the outcomes of following God’s direction or worse, suggests that God is impractical. Faith without tangible, observable consequences is impractical because it does not serve to convince, concretize or convert anyone to a position that is closer to the truth. Unless faith results in the practical the truth cannot fully be known.
I remember as a child my mother teaching me a bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” My mother saw ending the day with prayer as the most vital part of raising the children in our home. Now that I have children of my own, I am trying to decide what aspects of my faith besides prayer have made the most significant difference in my life. Understanding the meaning of the Holy Spirit and how it dwells within us strengthens my faith. Explaining the experience of the presence of the Lord still has been the most difficult aspect of the Trinity to explain to the younger generation.
The follower of any belief system has an obligation to examine whether what they suppose to be true, actually is true. Theologian and educator John Locke (1632 – 1704) once said that, “He that examines, and upon a fair examination embraces an error for a truth, has done his duty more than he who embraces the profession of the truth without having examined whether it be true or no.” Locke’s statement is based on the logical assumption that if someone really has given a fair examination to any supposition they will discover the truth (or at least come closer to it) and embrace it, replacing that which was erroneous or what might be called only half true.