Oct 26, 2010

I think, therefore I have no clue

Last week I had a conversation via twitter with a friend about an issue of which was more paramount to salvation: submission or understanding. lets define our terms.

 what I mean by Submission is the act of an individual subjugating himself to the Lordship of Christ. what i mean by understanding is a mental ascent to the knowledge of the truths about Christs Lordship and believing rightly about those things. 

some will say that there is a level of understanding that must be reached before one can submit to Christ and his Lordship. we must understand that he loves us, is worthy of our submission, and that this submission is to lead to our ultimate good. some will balk at the last one, saying that we should submit regardless of whether or not its for our good, but Christ uses our own pleasure and joy as a motivator for submission Matthew16:24-25 for instance....

I will say that I sympathize with this position greatly. it seems harmless enough to think that one must think rightly about these issues before one can truly understand what there submission means.  

but I'm afraid that what we are doing here is placing some extra implications on the Gospel that are simply not in scripture. Paul gives us the two requirements of salvation in Romans 10:9.

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 

here we see that confession of Christs Lordship(submission) and belief in the resurrection are the two elements that are necessary for salvation. some will surely say that belief in the resurrection is alluding to the understanding that is necessary. but I think that anyone who says this has trapped themselves to believing in a faithless Christianity. 

Quickly, show of hands, who understands the Resurrection from the Dead?.........................anyone?........sweet. I think what is actually shown in the passage from Romans is a Submission WITHOUT understanding. anyone who says they understand what put life back in our saviors body believes in a smallminded Christianity. 

the reason I write this is twofold.

First: we have lost the art of submission in our churches

what I hear all to often in working with church people are musings about what they would do differently if they were in leadership, why the leadership is wrong, and their desire for things to be different. I can't help but wonder what our churches would look like if we understood the place that submission holds in our faith. our entire system is based on submitting to a higher authority that we cannot and will not understand. and yet we refuse to submit to the authorities that have been placed on our churches. 

Second: we are no longer tolerant of mystery, so we have oversimplified our faith

the problem with believing that there is an understanding level that is necessary for submission is that when we come to things in the bible we don't understand, we either disregard it as not important or we reduce it down to something we can handle. we have lost the ability to live in the tension that is the gospel. 

the last, unspoken reason behind all of this conversation is the arrogance that we think we understand anything about our faith in the classical sense. now before you call me a crazy liberal, think for about 2 seconds. are you really arrogant enough to believe that you UNDERSTAND the atonement? the resurrection? the Cross? sure you have a grasp on what scripture says about these things, you may even have a sound theology about them. but to say that you understand the death of Christ is absurd. its incomprehensible. but we MUST believe in it and in what Scripture teaches about it. we can certainly understand  the logical consistences between these truths and the doctrines in scripture, but the foundational truth about all of this is that it is UNBELIEVABLE. this is why we must be born again. we will not believe these truths unless God changes our hearts towards him.

we may not ever understand completely or even marginally understand why we must submit to Christ. we simply have faith that he is who he says he is. the depths of our relationship with Christ are not bound by our ability to understand them. 

I will continue with some more thoughts that i had thinking about this issue in the coming weeks. hope this will hold you over Gail


  1. good thoughts. glad to see you are writing about all the things that go around in your head. i have been hoping you would get that stuff out for a long time. i look forward to being challenged by your thoughts again.

    thank you too for your insight on submission to leadership. not just because i am now the pastor, but because i think it's refreshing to see someone champion submission without complete understanding or agreement.

  2. "we have lost the ability to live in the tension that is the gospel."

    So true. We want it to be packaged with a nice little bow and it's not. End of story. Always glad to be a part of thought provoking conversations.

  3. Love the new signature (very you!) and tabs! And thanks for the shout-out! :)

    As for content... I was going to quote the same thing Ryan did, but I'll just build off him. I think the 2nd folds into the first. We have trouble not understanding everything because we can't submit to everything. Interesting blend of ideas there!