Inflexibility


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Scott Akerman, Flickr

May 11, 2017

Recently someone responded to last week’s post about hard hearts. I count this person as a friend. On her end of things, there may be doubt in her mind about that, and I am not certain enough to swear on a stack of Bibles that she counts me as a friend. But I believe she does. This person often asks hard questions of me. She probes for what I am thinking, underneath the writing. She pushes back. It used to feel uncomfortable.

But, as I have thought further, maybe that is one of the best kinds of friend to have.

After last week’s article, entitled “Do You Have a Hard Heart?, she asked me how I would illustrate my own teachability. That is a fair question in the light the subject: hardness of heart. Her perception of me is that, as a teacher, my stances seem inflexible.

The question deserves an answer. My response can’t be complete, this not being the place for a book-length article. However, opportunity presents itself to more fully explain what is behind my writing, and the stances I take.

Upfront I tell you that I do not belong to either major political party. I left the Republicans in 2006. I believe the Constitution Party holds most closely the ideals of the Founders. For some reason, the party is not very popular. I suspect that our Founders would be vilified in our day.

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You have noticed probably that many of my posts relate to the political scene, or more accurately, the governmental scene. This is because worldview has almost everything to do with how we see this area of life. That is because worldview has almost everything to do with everything.

It took awhile to realize elements of my worldview did not integrate well. Do people honestly dig into and sort out their worldview? I believe often the way we see life and reality is unexamined, or is synthesized from a number of sources which may be conflicting with one another.

Let’s begin to answer the question that was posed to me. Am I inflexible?

Indeed I am. About some things.

In that regard I am probably no different from anyone who breathes. Most everyone will have at least a some beliefs they will hold, facing even the strongest opposition. I can only imagine a human being having no inflexible stances whatever would not live long.

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Stop means exactly what it says, for example.

This list cannot be exhaustive, but what follows are examples of my inflexible stances. you will see links to previously published articles to help illustrate this post.

The first article I wrote, “Ruminations on the Presidential Race – Compassion, Forced” was an attempt to bring out my view that the state as God is a bad idea. The first temptation recorded in human history was presented to a woman named Eve. The basic temptation was “Be your own God“.

It lives today. In all history humans have clambered to collect power over others. The state is not all-wise nor is it benevolent. Only God can be God. Our attempts to sidestep this have poor results. I have believed this for decades and will continue to believe it.

Only God Almighty is worthy of worship. Yet we misplace worship in many other directions. That conviction stirred “Ruminations on a Presidential Race – Misplaced Worship“. There is a trite phrase: “We become what we worship“. That is a strong warning. Compelling evidence exists in our world for its reality.

Several of my published posts over the last few years address these two issues. Yes. you may report I am inflexible in believing that God is God and man is not.

Go to Church or Be the Church?” describes ideas upon which I meditate about life together in God. This stance is flexible. My decades-long learning in this area continues. I believe we are missing a lot. I don’t have all the solutions. But I have some. This does not mean they would be easy.

Some of my articles deal with the issue of contentment and thankfulness. “Never Quite Content” is an example. I pursue living an attitude of contentment and thanksgiving but fall short. My belief is firm that thanksgiving and contentment are necessary and pleasing to The Almighty, but I fall short.

I might have chosen a less dismissive sounding title for “Atheists Don’t Exist“. Yes the idea of worship is at the core of my outlook on life and the world. I still maintain that everyone worships. Who or what you worship determines who and what you think about virtually everything.

Yet, I suppose kinder phrasing may have been used. I wanted the title to jump-start thinking. I continue to believe everyone worships (which is in itself an evidence for the presence of God), so my definition of “atheist” could be clarified. Is there anyone who does not believe there is something or someone transcendent over our mind and existence?

If you want you go further, in no particular order, and not a complete list, here are some more examples of my so-called inflexible stances:

  • There is truth, and it can be found out.
  • As truth exists, so does evil.
  • Christ the Messiah lived died and was buried and rose again. His grave is empty.
  • That same Jesus is God himself and is described in the Scripture as the exact representation of the Father.
  • I hold to the Apostle’s, Nicene, and Chalcedonian creeds.
  • I hold to the Word of God – the Scriptures.
  • When man’s words and God’s words are disparate, I go with God’s words.(This does not mean I fully understand either. Plus I continue to study and learn.)
  • Marriage is highly sacred, created by and defined by Almighty God.
  • As such marriage is not subject to experimentation.
  • Man it is not as intelligent or wise as is God Almighty.
  • At his most creative, man cannot improve upon the ways and means of God. We will never be smarter, wiser, more discerning, or more original than The Almighty.
  • Many moral issues have been politicized but still remain moral and not political issues.
  • Politics and better economy are not the answer to our problems.
  • Submission, surrender, and repentance are.
  • Evil always miscalculates. I have yet to think of an example where that is not true. Teach me.

Next I share more flexible thinking, but on which I have current opinions. This means they could change or be refined.

  • In the earlier years I was more law-oriented. Now I am more Grace-oriented. This remains in tension. Jesus was full of grace and truth. Most of us tend to err in one direction or the other. I continue to pursue the satisfying center.
  • I have let go of numerous peripheral ideas and grown stronger in my confidence and belief in the written Word of God and who Jesus is.
  • Sports used to occupy a huge portion of my life. I still regret the fact that when my kids were small, I insisted, by action, that I must watch Monday Night Football.

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(I’ve been a Green Bay fan since the 60’s. Sounds awful inflexible.)

  • Never mind playing catch with my son or dolls with my daughter. Nope. Monday Night Football. What a short-sighted and time-burning practice. Now I mostly ignore it, except for playoff time.
  • I used to think highly formal, liturgical worship is by definition dead. I no longer do. It has the possibility to be so, but then so do informal evangelical practices.

Finally, here are examples which remain fluid in my worldview stances.

  • I am a quick adopter in tools and technology. If it will help me work better, or save time, I will go for it. That is if the cost is not extravagant.
  • I have little brand loyalty, being interested in what just works without a lot of drama.
  • One exception: I have never looked back after going to Apple products. My downtime on maintenance and hair-pulling in front of my home computer decreased dramatically after I made that move. (You ask how that could possibly be related to worldview. The importance of time, attitude, and excellence are related to worldview and the perfection of God and His creativity.)
  • A wide variety of music styles can be engaged in the worship of The Almighty. There are few styles I don’t like.

If you read my articles, you’ll catch on, but I believe humility is central in a relationship with God and with each other. That implies being teachable. My hope and desire is that humility and teachability would be one of my descriptors.

Most of us face ongoing temptations to be proud and think we know everything. I am not immune. I constantly ask God to help me keep an open heart and teachable spirit. Just because I am inflexible on some things doesn’t mean I think I have all the answers. But I believe Someone does, and my belief in that is inflexible.

My friend asked how I would illustrate my teachability.

Ouch. I am sorry it had to be asked. Of course, the geographical distance between us and having had no face-to-face interaction for decades would make it tough for her for her to see it.

May these help illustrate:

  • I have sought out small groups of men for many years in order to have people with whom to bounce ideas, debate and discuss philosophies and world events, and learn. This helps keep me grounded in the real world and reminds me I am an ordinary human. Men challenge my thoughts.
  • I have pursued being connected to small prayer groups for similar reasons.
  • When I teach I make it mostly interactive, encouraging questions. I learn from teaching and from responses.
  • I have read journals most of my adult life, including from other persuasions than my own.
  • Over the years I have laid side many ideas and life practices I concluded were not as important as I used to think they were.
    1. Tendency toward perfectionism
    2. Tendency toward over-busyness.
    3. Tendency toward laying down the law. (I cringe when I think of some of the early youth retreats I led and how I laid out all the rules before we ever got off the ground.)
    4. Tendency toward judging spiritual health based on outward actions
    5. Tendency to label some things as sin that are not defined as such. Example: consumption of alcohol. Many years ago that would’ve been anathema to me. Sipping is not a sin. Drunkenness is. Being ruled by something someone other than God is.

We could go on forever. We should not. You may have already nodded off at the screen.

I invite you to respond. Let me know where you believe I am not flexible but need to be. I may or not agree with you that flex is needed in your suggested area. But I probably have blind spots.

And thanks to my friend for spurring me to respond.

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