The Importance of Perennial Debates

There are some debates that come up in a constant, self-feeding cycle, and I can’t stand them.  See: gun control, Calvinism-Arminianism, Sean Connery or Roger Moore.

But there are debates that by their nature Christians should be constantly revisiting.  They aren’t just examples of intractable gridlock, but signs that we are doing the business of taking scripture and its meaning for our lives seriously.

Theodicy – if God is good why is there evil and suffering – is one of these.  If we’re paying attention to the world as we should, we will wrestle with this until the end.  James Muilenberg wrote, “Every morning when you wake up, before you reaffirm your faith in the majesty of a loving God, before you say I believe for another day, read the Daily News with its record of the latest crimes and tragedies of mankind and then see if you can honestly say it again.”

Another, I believe, is the issue of women in ministry.  I have written before why I believe the New Testament calls women to all roles within the church and equips women to both pastor to and teach all members of the church.  But I understand – of course I do – that this is not immediately obvious, and that a straightforward reading of many passages seems to obviously go against this belief.

Yet those who would hold to such a “straightforward” reading will be struck by a different dilemma.  For many of us have met women who are certainly Christians manifesting all the fruit of the Spirit, and who are absolutely certain that God has called them to ministry, and who seem to manifest the gifts of such a calling.  Now, such experiences don’t dictate what Christians believe over scripture, but they should and must drive us back to scripture to improve our understanding.

Hence these debates are – and ought to be – ongoing.

What do you think?  What other discussions in the Christian community are we committed to perpetuate?  Which discussions should be closed books?

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One response to “The Importance of Perennial Debates

  1. Justin Esposito

    Of utmost importance: the relationship of saving faith and good works/obedience to the commands of God. With sinful man’s default setting at quid pro quo salvation, we are constantly in danger of relying on something within ourselves for our individual standing with the Lord. With so many Christian denominations dedicated to putting people back under some sort of law righteousness, I would put the debate over women pastors way down the scale in comparison.

    Which brings me back to one of your initial side-mentions: Calvinism-Arminianism as if it were adiaphora, optional, superfluous to a healthy cohesion in the Body of Christ. Really it is more central than that in encompassing elements of all central doctrines of Christianity. We just simply need to shift the label from Csm-Asm to monergism-synergism and we’ll see how critical it is to develop a whole-Bible understanding of who God is and what He has done. Theodicy? Right this way…

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