One of my favorite authors is Louis L’Amour. He wrote westerns, which may not be something you care about but I enjoy, likely because the West is what I call home. There are several points he makes in most of his books over and over but one fits well with this little post. A rider would stop on some rise in the ground and look out over the vastness of the landscape before him. Usually he, or another with him, would comment that though it looks empty it isn’t. “You could hide an army out there and no one would ever know it.” Why? Because the land is filled with shallows and ravines, land contours that are not readily seen. Therefore the knowing person would never say that land was empty for they knew better.
Theology is like that in a way. At first glance the issue of salvation or the nature of God seems rather straight-forward. You are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Duh! God is love and God is holy and God is life. Easy peasy. But then you start to read some more and think some more and all of the sudden a big canyon is before you. You decide to explore it and find innumerable gullies and cracks that cry out to be looked into. You are so busy looking down that when you accidentally do look up, there are trails and rock out-croppings that you never even saw.
Several in our church are reading through a theology book on salvation. It is excellent but it is only a brief look into a subject so vast that one could commit their whole life to merely that one subject — salvation and still have more to explore.
I ask that you remember that when you start to talk about theology and doctrine. Before you decide that you understand something or start making pronouncements about things that you likely really only sorta-kinda understand.
What prompted this post? An excellent article I read where the author is writing about him challenging Tullian Tchividjian, a prominent pastor, to a debate about the relationship between faith, grace and repentance. Tullian is a man who is flirting dangerously with a faith that really doesn’t have to “work” as James 2:14ff puts it. I invite you to read that article all the way through. You will not understand it, goodness, he mentions terms and men I have no knowledge of but it is worth the read because it shows the complexity of theology and the tendency for us to be over-simplistic in what we say or conclude. Remember always that when you wander into the land of theology that it is vast, vast enough to hide an army.
I might add that we always look at how many readers of a blog post of ours actually click through to a recommended article. Usually it is around 10 percent. I hope that won’t be the case here.