Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Principles

One thing that struck me again when I was in the States this past week was that the Christian community very much wants to obey God’s principles.

That means, though, that you need to work to find out exactly what they are. What exactly is “stealing”? What are the Biblical grounds for divorce? Does the Bible allow certain types of discipline for children? What is gossip anyway? What can we do, and what must we avoid?

Once you have discovered what those principles are, then you have to hold to them. They are unbreakable. When you go against God’s principles you run the risk that the blessing will be taken away from or not poured out upon your life.

(I never hear anyone ask what God really and concretely would do if you broke one of the principles. Does He then throw you into Hell? Does He send misery and destruction your way? What exactly does He do? If you ask this question, you don’t get an answer. People cannot – in light of their theology – say that God throws them into Hell. Because they believe He is a loving Heavenly Father they cannot bring themselves to say that that He gives them a whopper of a disaster or a jolly good thump on the head (which, because God is doing it, bodes no good). But you still get the feeling that people believe that something will go irretrievably wrong if you transgress one of these Biblical principles. I remember once that I asked a colleague of mine, a minister, that question when he told me that he was afraid he was a very bad leader for his congregation. When I asked the question I saw his body literally relax. But he gave me no answer. I had to supply it.)

An elder in a congregation put it this way: If the path that we have chosen is wrong, we pray that God will give us the wisdom to see that. But in the meantime we must do what we see in His word, not what we don't see.

I experienced this as a strait jacket. Because people wanted to hold on to Biblical principles it seemed that every use of common sense was abandoned. There was no creativity anymore. People forgot that God has given us a set of brains to use. God-created gray matter.

A favourite author of mine wrote: Principles are what people have in place of God.

I believe I experienced that last week. And people get hurt by it.

Sad.

1 comment:

The Rapier's said...

I know this frustration and have been experiencing it myself lately. It seems that especially with regard to parenting, people have very strong views about how God wants you to do it. People are shocked when they find out that I don't want to spank Jeremiah (they assume that means no discipline at all), that I won't let him cry himself to sleep for hours (he must be getting spoiled), that I don't think that homeschooling is the only right way to educate him (won't he be corrupted by the public school system).
Of course, I have my strong views too. But I hope that I don't try to push them on others as complete truth.