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?