It is no calumny to be mistaken. Indeed, it is not even a very great fault. And although it is preferable to be correct, other matters of far greater importance ought to pull rank on any division over a matter of correctness.
There are, of course, matters in which correctness is of vital, nay, crucial importance, but this import is not derived from the correctness itself, but from other matters and considerations. Salvation is a prime example. For to be perfectly accurate (though not necessarily precise) on the matters upon which our eternal souls depend is a matter of eternal import. Yet it is evident that this importance is due to the immeasurable stakes which are upon this belief, and not to the details of the belief itself. Thus we must be perfectly accurate in this, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the consequences of that belief.
You will say that God is Truth, that He values truth, that He abhors false witnesses, that He is Holy (and thus no fault or mistake is in His nature), and that we ought to be like Him. You will moreover assert that God commands us to hold to those standards, so to neglect to seek Truth would be to sin against Him. I do not contest these assertions.
I do, however, contend that these truths to not make mistakes in accuracy sins themselves, but merely the neglect to pursue the eradication of these errors. I still further contend that there are other duties held so much higher in God’s esteem that when these come in conflict with out quest for truth, we must relinquish said quest for their sakes.
This philosophy has two manifestations in practical life, insofar as I know. Each of these are sadly quite common, and ought to be solidly addressed.
The first is where you find yourself in a situation in which another person is mistaken, and because of this difference in belief between the two of you, there is potential for discord and other undesirables. The Biblical example is eating food. Some people mistakenly believe it is sinful to eat certain foods, others do not have this misunderstanding of the Bible. Paul says that it is more important to avoid conflict with the person than it is to confront them. We ought to, as far as reason allows, trick them into thinking we agree with them, more or less. It is more important to help keep them from feeling like they are sinning than to help them see their mistake. (Of course we still ought not to avoid preaching and teaching the truth. (Paul didn’t)) This conclusion is clear to anyone who has read Romans 14-15 honestly.
The second is where you find yourself in a situation in which another person is mistaken, and that person is in significant authority over you. This is something that has a lot more emotional charge than the last, and I do not expect many of you to agree with me. But here ’tis. There are situations in which we ought to submit certain beliefs of ours to another in the cause of obedience, submission, and creating a good witness.
What kinds of situations? Well the most solid one is that of husbands and wives. If a husband believes that a wife ought to wear headcoverings, and she doesn’t believe that, it is her duty to submit to her husband’s belief and wear them. Same thing with other topics like eating certain foods, going to church, etc. This is being a witness to her husband, and God will bless that, possible even turning her husband to the truth. Mistakes in minor doctrines like these are so unimportant that they are hardly worth mentioning, especially if doing so would be an act of rebellion, disrespect, or conflict. This principle is not so obvious, but just as strong. Study 1 Peter 3:1-6 in coordination with Romans 14-15 if you want to see it.
This principle also applies to children who are under their father’s authority. (Don’t ask me when they go out from under his authority, that is another post entirely.)
The basic principle is that seeking truth is good and profitable, as long as it doesn’t conflict with other, more important things like submission and charity.
What are your thoughts on this concept? This is a hot topic, but I would like to see what you think.
Filed under: Heavenly | Tagged: Apologetics, Belief, Bible, Christianity, God, Godly living, hot topic, Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality, Righteousness, Salvation, Submission, Truth, Walking with God |