Spectrum Thinking In Theology

I was having a good discussion with a friend of mine the other night about the difficulties of coming to a specific conclusion on one’s understanding of God’s sovereignty.  The Bible has areas that support both sides of the spectrum.  When you decide to believe one way or the other, or even to decide that you will pinpoint your beliefs right in the middle, your mind then takes a shift in how it interprets anything in the Bible that does not  match up exactly with your beliefs.  We may find ourselves going to great lengths to try and make the Bible say what we want it to say, instead of letting it speak for itself.

Most Christians will agree that God is so far beyond our understanding.  I’ve often heard phrases uttered such as, “our finite minds cannot understand an infinite God.”  If this is the case, then why do we feel the need to have pinpoint accuracy in how we understand the more difficult aspects of the Bible?  Instead of having to choose a point on the spectrum of understanding of a topic, why don’t we allow ourselves to think about it as a spectrum?  The Bible says “xyz”, but it also says “abc.”  It isn’t necessary that it has to be one or the other.  Could it be that we do not leave room for the ways of God to truly be beyond our grasp of fully understanding?

I do realize that this has the potential to be a slippery slope, but systematizing theology has just as much potential to be harmful as well.  What are your thoughts on this?

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2 thoughts on “Spectrum Thinking In Theology

  1. Great question, good post. It’s the existence of multiple perspectives in theology that cause me to be that much more humble and careful in insisting on certain viewpoints. That said, I am also a believer in truth and not in affirming that all views are equally valid and correct (which I think is the trend of our society, the fear of telling someone that they are wrong). I also believe that God has called us to love him with all our minds, has given us his Word to guide us in truth (2 Tim 3:16-17), and the Bereans are a great example of doing this (Acts 17:11), taking what Paul said and measuring it against Scripture.

    A book that has helped me in this area (dealing with differing perspectives in theology) is Vern Poythress’ “Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology”. You’re welcome to borrow my copy if you’d like.

    Grateful for you, my friend.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Aaron. I completely agree with you that not all views are valid or correct. This post is more meant for those topics about theology that are too difficult to pinpoint and/or where the Bible says different things at different times about how God works. Instead of feeling the need to “get it exactly right”, I think we ought to give ourselves more freedom to be willing to view certain things as a spectrum.

      I just may have to check out that book. I’ll let you know 🙂

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