Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Faith Of My Own

Some years ago I read a book by a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He recalled a time when he was on a panel interviewing folks who had applied to enter a doctoral program at the school. He recalled the questions that were asked of these candidates. They were questions that don't seem to me to be all that difficult to answer. As an example, one was "Defend from scripture the deity of Christ." He said all the men held master's degrees. Some taught in seminaries and others were pastors. Yet, very very few could answer the questions they were asked adequately. From this he concluded that many of them believed in a second hand faith.

By second hand faith I mean this, they are believing things that other people had told them were true, but they never researched these things out for themselves. Therefore, the things really were not part of their own faith. They were riding the coattails, as it were, of somebody else's faith. And this is a real danger.

We live in a day of popular and famous preachers. John Piper, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Al Mohler and many, many others could be named. We have access to the writings of some of the greatest Christian teachers of past centuries, more than any generation before us. Thanks to the Internet, all this information is available to us. But it also comes with a real danger attached to it.

We must be, above all things, students of scripture. Recall the words of Martin Luther at Worms "My conscience is captive to the word of God." Oh! That that would be true of all of us. But far too many of us have our pet teachers and we give them our implicit trust and we trust what they tell us. The danger is that we will become lazy and not study out for ourselves the things they teach. Therefore, I cease believing for myself and I start believing because Piper, or Mohler, or someone else told me so. If something is going to be part of us, then it must be something we believe for ourselves. That means we have some work ahead of us.

Every Christian is called to be a theologian. We must all study the scriptures for ourselves. We must know it for ourselves. It can never ever be because someone else said so. Now, lest I be misunderstood, let me be more clear. We are all discipled by someone. It is good and right to have godly teachers to guide us in our Christian growth. It is good and right to read books written by godly men and women of the past and to lean on their wisdom. But those resources must never be an excuse to stop us from studying for ourselves. We must test every lesson, every sermon, every written page, against the word of God. Our consciences are not captive to the word of Piper, or Mohler or Calvin or any other. It is captive to the word of God!

Too many errors are rampant in the Church (universal) today because Christians trust their teachers to always tell the truth. Too many Christians are hoping to ride into heaven on the coattails of their favorite preaching celebrity. It is time to test everything against scripture and make it our own faith. It is time to own the faith for ourselves.

Anything else is not real Christianity. It is living off the table scraps from someone else's table. And that is no way to be when the King of Kings has set out the banquet table for us. Is it?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff Davis said...

I'd be interested in reading some of the other questions that they asked at the seminary.

BTW, wouldn't the best answer be John 1:1?

9:54 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Excellent word, Dr. Sneed. Thank you.

2:27 PM  

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