Many Christians seem to have a problem with someone suggesting they should agree to disagree on matters of faith.
Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church published an interesting blog post this week.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything Noble says (or does onstage), but I definitely agreed with his point about Christian disputes on Biblical points.
He was tackling a topic that many continue to debate: whether women should be allowed to be pastors. That’s a topic of interest to me and I’ll get around to giving you my take on it in a future post.
However, I agreed with Noble’s main point, which he based on a quote from Augustine:
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
A friend of mine has a hard time, for example, believing in the flood depicted in the story of Noah’s Ark. He said the amount of water needed to flood the entire earth just seems impossible. I’ve always kept in mind that as late as the 15th century, people were convinced the earth was flat and that sailing off too far made for the possibility that one could “fall off” the edge of the world. From that perspective, a “worldwide” flood only required a flood of the area people of that time — long before the 15th century — could see or imagine existed. In short, much less water was required.
Perhaps that seems like a game of semantics to you. But the Bible wasn’t a scientific text. It wasn’t meant to be some sort of meteorological dissertation; it’s a text to help us bridge a path to know God. Attempting to convert the Bible into a forensic report misses the point.
In another example, the story of creation takes a beating over the order of things. The first two chapters of Genesis jumble the order in which man and woman were created in relation to all of the other beasts on the globe. Does it really matter? I don’t think so, but some get very agitated any time the Bible is questioned.
I think both stories — Noah’s Ark and Creation — convey a very important point: God is in control. That part is the essential Augustine spoke of. There should be unity in that point.
But which came first or how much water actually flooded the world, those points, to me, are non-essentials. They’re stepping stones to the bigger point.
Get there (to the bigger point) however you can: just make sure you get there.