Having grown up in church all my life, it was not uncommon to hear warnings against the idea of “change.”
To be clear, I think those contexts were of righteous intent, and even have a Scriptural basis. If one is convinced that God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and God’s Word never changes (Psalm 119:89), one may rightly conclude that there is a degree of unhealthy change.
But that is not to say that all change in one’s position is bad.
Actually, I now believe the opposite to be true. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing.
Passages such as Hebrews 5:13-14 and 1 Corinthians 3:2 strongly suggest that we must go deeper with God’s Word, which will necessarily lead to a growth in understanding and, quite likely, a change in theology.
Assuming now that change can be a good thing, how should we handle it? Have you ever learned something new that rocked your world, and maybe has changed how you read the entire Bible?
I have. Here are two examples.
Molinism is the view that, through divine middle knowledge, God knew logically prior to creating the universe what any free creature would do given a particular set of circumstances.
This view therefore reconciles divine sovereignty and human freedom. It shows that God can so arrange the world as to accomplish his purposes, while not violating the free decisions made by those whom he created.
Understanding God’s middle knowledge and how it works has been a game-changer in how I read the Bible and work through various aspects of my theology.
The Divine Counsel Worldview
This is a view I have recently been exposed to, which has quite literally changed how I understand almost every passage of Scripture.
In extreme brief, the view demonstrates that the “gods” of ancient Israel’s neighbors were not reducible to stone idols. Rather, they are very real, intelligent, spiritual beings who were given rule over the scattered nations at Babel as a judgment for the people’s rebellion.
Some of these beings, much like humanity in Genesis 3, turned wicked and made the free decision to reject Yahweh (see Psalm 82).
The gospel is therefore not merely concerned with the salvation and restoration of our souls from the curse of sin, but is very much concerned with Christ—the Son of the Most High—reclaiming the nations under rightful rule and establishing his eternal family, both spiritual and human.
What to Do?
Unfortunately, this innate resistance to change within certain Christian communities has resulted in many being so paralyzed that they fail to study deeper.
If change is possible and should be avoided, then so should any study which could lead to it.
If that’s you, come on in! The water’s fine! You don’t have to fear. Sure, you might change your theology.
But I’ve already demonstrated that the Bible assumes you will, and should!
If you stay in the same place through the duration of your walk with God, you are not growing, and are therefore functionally denying that the Bible itself can change you.
Here are four super practical steps that will help you navigate the muddy waters of theological change.
Lift the essentials high. Take the time to understand what biblical essentialism is. What things are necessary for you to be considered a Bible-believing, Christ-following Christian? Do not deviate from these, and filter all other theological ideas through them. Good (consistent) ideas stay for further evaluation and integration into the full picture. Bad (inconsistent) ones immediately go.
Read a variety of resources. One writer does not have complete purchase on Christian theology, nor does one group of writers within a closed system. Proverbs 11:14 is a helpful guide. Read varying perspectives, evaluate the arguments, weigh against the essentials, and find somewhere to land.
Bridge gaps and make connections. It’s important that we view the Bible for what it actually is—a human document given by inspiration of God. This means that, all throughout, there are connections to be made and insights to be uncovered that could revolutionize our understanding of tertiary doctrines. Learn to think in terms of the whole instead of the parts when studying your Bible.
Foster your relationship with God. This is of utmost importance. In your process of discovery and finding where you land with respect to theological views, do not neglect personal time spent with God. He is your Anchor, and Rock, and Father. God is not a mere object to be explored, but is rather a personal Being to be loved, worshiped, and cherished.
Finally, allow me to simply underscore the importance of actually stepping out into discovery.
To be blunt—a person cannot simply rest upon mommy and daddy’s blessed assurance forever.
We each have our own walk to account for, and our own relationship with God to nurture. I, for one, shudder to think at how shallow my relationship would be with him today had I not stepped out to really get to know him for myself.
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