Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Benefit of Inconsistency

It will seem bizarre (and to me embarrassing) that I wrestled in college with whether I should date girls that wear earrings. But that was the religious culture from which I emerged. I didn't personally care and wanted to date them. But my conscience, determined as it always is by the culture in which we are raised, told me I shouldn't. Didn't 1 Peter 3:3 say so?

A family member told me not to worry about it. Things would take care of themselves. God would tell anyone who needed to be told about jewelry in his own time. And if a girl was the right sort of person, she would listen to whatever God told her. My objection was that I needed to be consistent.

Of course a year and a relationship later I found myself quite frustrated with the idea as ridiculous.  An earring was little different than me wearing a tie. Reality prevailed over random and indefensible ideas for me, as I hope it has ever since.

You might have heard the saying, "Ideas have consequences." They certainly can, in the hands of an idealist or an idealogue. There are an awful lot of them around right now. They get people stirred up. They start revolutions. They create and become suicide bombers. The ideological chickens don't kill themselves but others around them.

Most of us prize the person who is consistent in his or her beliefs. We preach it as a virtue from our pulpits. The problem is that most systems of thought are flawed. When an ideologue begins to be consistent with flawed ideas, they can become quite dangerous. Think Nazi. Think Muslim extremist. Think terrorist.

A somewhat humorous example to me is the KJV only person backed into the corner. I've mentioned one progression before.

"You realize that the KJV you're using was revised several times."

"Fine, then I'll use the 1611 version."

"You realize the 1611 version was an Anglican compromise that had the Apocrypha. The Puritans used the Geneva Bible."

"Fine, so I'll use the Geneva Bible."

It is this "consistency" with an initially flawed idea or system that has some American evangelicals arguing that slavery wasn't so bad. Why? Because they are opposed to gay marriage and women in ministry.

So here's to inconsistency.  Here's to all the so called thinkers out there who have one or two bizarre ideas that they do not play out in the rest of their lives. Here's to the warm-hearted folk whose heart doesn't let them be consistent with whatever theory they hold in one area that would become truly dangerous in another. Here's to all the dis-integrated teachers and professors who are teaching their area of expertise with distinction... and not letting the bizarre ideas they have in other areas infect the area they actually know about.


Anonymous said...

So how did you come to the conclusion that "evangelicals" are arguing that slavery was "good"?

I have never heard any evangelical describe 1700 to 1863 American slavery as a good thing. I figure that must be the slavery you are speaking of since the Master to slave relationships prescribed for the Jews and then by NT teachers does not in anyway resemble American Slavery.

Robby from Washingtion.

Anonymous said...

There are evangelicals who do argue that slavery is Biblical and not really as bad as it sounds. Of course, those in leadership wouldn't dare but some I've encountered and in fact, one recently, made the comment.

Now why would anyone? To maintain consistency with his ideology of scriptural entire sanctification. Believe me, as a pastor you encounter a lot of so-called "Biblical" ideas because people don't know proper hermeneutics.

I've been doing a series on Sunday evenings of "How to read your Bible without becoming a heretic." As Christians we must not only know how to read our Bible but do so with a proper understanding of how to interpret what we are reading.

A lot of people will say, "I just read the Bible and do what it says." So did the slave owners of the American south.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rob - Jewish Master/Slave as perscribed in The Law was a normal working relationship for folks who could not pay their bills. The slave/servant was given a lot of rights in this system. BUT, that system DID NOT resemble modern slavery in which the slave is abused and has NO rights and NO way to really gain freedom. Even the American Slave owners were "cherry picking" when using their bible to justify their abuse of the Master/Slave relationship. But there is NO room for "cherry picking" when it comes to the Bible verses about same-sex relationships. The Bible is clear and consistant about the SIN of same-sex relationship, just as it is for any other sexual sin, which is JUST AS sinful.

Robby from washington.

Brian Scramlin said...

But anyway...

Many do not carry what they consider their beliefs to their full-bodied conclusions. True story.

My thought is that, sometimes I feel like I have to stand upon a belief, even if I don't have a phd on the topic, just to stay sane. In the past century, out of all of human history, never has so much information been accessible, nor opinions able to be mass communicated.

At the end of the day, we can't ever do enough research. So what do we stand upon? The choice to believe this or that truth based upon varying levels of reason, tradition, and experience with the matter. It's like Keith Drury's defense of his personal beliefs, he simply pasted the link to the Wesleyan Belief's page. He chose to submit to these truths.

At times when we choose to submit to a belief, a situation comes up that illumines a contradiction in our belief inventory. At that point, the KJV guy should go and do what research necessary to become coherent, but he isn't sinning against philosophy and human reason to maintain a belief for a length of time.

Alas, by the end of this comment I realize there are times though when I am just too tired to fight (aka research and resolve)... to which I too say "cheers to inconsistency".

Martin LaBar said...

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in "Self-Reliance:"

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall."