Saturday, March 31, 2012

But Isn't That Arrogant?

I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep Your precepts.  (Psalm 119:99-100)

Once upon a time, when I was talking with a friend who was considering leaving the Lutheran Church to be Eastern Orthodox, he told me that I ought not disrespect my fathers.  The church fathers are our fathers.  We ought not act like petulant teenagers who think we know everything.  He certainly had a point.  Sometimes fathers do know things that the children "know" to be oh-so-stupid, and it will take a few decades before the kids find out Dad was right after all.

So what's up with this verse in Psalm 119?
Who had the audacity to say this?
Oh, yeah, it was somebody who was inspired by God.

Didn't Paul praise the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if his message was faithful to the doctrine of the Old Testament?  There seems to be a place for asking questions.

Can we sometimes say, "I have more understanding than my teachers"?  When Luther came along, did he say anything different from the church fathers who preceded him?  Or did he just refine what had been said earlier?  When problems arise, we learn something as we deal with them.  There's a problem with the plaster in the house, and maybe we learn something about drywall.  There's a problem with the stove, and we learn to adjust the settings, or maybe we even learn how to replace a heating element with the help of a you-tube tutorial.  There are other problems too.  Some dude is selling indulgences over in Mainz in the 1500s, and somebody has to say why that's wrong and how Jesus' blood is my righteousness.  We have some other pastor-guys fighting about election in the late 1800s, and how God elects His chosen ones, and why, and when, and what it means, ... and maybe there are personalities involved and not just doctrine, so that maybe we today have insight that even our fathers didn't have in the midst of the controversy.

Is that really arrogant?  I know it can be.  I know the temptation is always there. 

But it's not wrong to say "I understand more than the ancients" when our view continues to be illuminated by the light of Jesus' cross.  When I am navel-gazing, and when my teachers have their eyes fixed on the Savior and His work, then I understand bajillions less than they do.  But sometimes you hear a toddler or older child confess the Faith purely and sweetly, and the teacher is embarrassed to see that her own faith is cluttered with garbage.

We are blessed to "understand more than the ancients" when our heart is captured by the things into which kings and prophets longed to look but could not see (Luke 10).

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