Romans 14:1-10 NASB
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.“
There are a number of Biblical subjects or areas that I have a certain level of uncertainty about and the reason for that is usually there are different schools of Biblical thought on the given subject. In the vast majority of cases, I have studied the arguments for both sides (if there are only two arguments, sometimes there are more than two) and have not, as of yet, been able to come to a definitive position on the given subject.
These particular subjects do not include, what I would consider, any of the major tenants of Christianity. In other words, I have no doubt that Jesus was and is God’s only begotten divine Son, or that He died on the cross to pay the price for our sins or that He rose again from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, or that repentance is necessary for salvation, as per some examples of the major tenants of Christianity.
I’m deliberately not going to list these areas of uncertainty. Some of them can become so contentious that just mentioning them can and do cause division within the Church. That grieves me that this is so, but it is what it is.
Sometimes in some of my posts I will mention that I lean towards, what I would call, a particular Biblical understanding. What that usually means is that if push comes to shove I would have a tendency to go in the direct that I lean towards but it also indicates that I have not come to the position where I can successfully rule out all other considerations.
I will provide one example that deals with the subject of predestination, unconditional election and free will, which generally breaks down into two primary schools of thought that are generally called Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) being a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians), in one of more of it’s various forms, and Arminianism, a system of belief that attempts to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will, especially in relation to salvation, in one or more of it’s various forms. The history of these two opposing perspectives is quite involved but you can take a look at an overview here, should you wish to do so. And, as you can see, just mentioning these two different schools of thought requires considerable clarification.
The problem is, for me, when I read through my Bible, I see evidence for both, so for me, this particular subject is what I call a grey area. I personally lean towards Arminianism but I cannot rule out Calvinism. This difference of opinion does not need to be a stumbling block to Christian fellowship but sometimes it can be.
Problem being, this is just one item on my list.
I’ve come to realize that there are always going to be areas of disagreement because our knowledge is incomplete (1 Corinthians 13:9) and in the vast majority of cases where there are disagreements, we basically have to make a choice. Is the disagreement sufficient enough that we have to part ways or can I acknowledge the disagreement and still stay in fellowship? And for me, most times, I can stay in fellowship. The truth of the matter, at least for me, is that the message of the Scriptures, including the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is both simple and complex and to ignore that reality is foolish. And just to clarify, when I’m talking about being foolish, I am talking about me.
Could I be the one who the Apostle Paul calls weak in faith as it pertains to my understanding? That is definitely a possibility. Could it be the one who has a different opinion than me that is weak in faith? That also is a definite possibility. The two primary concerns that Paul exhorts upon, is for us NOT to judge or hold in contempt, our brother or sister in Christ, if at all possible.
Is this always easy? No it is not. But I think that it behooves us to be aware of our own areas of uncertainty and acknowledge them, plus afford, if at all possible, that same element of flexibility that we give to ourselves about our own uncertainty, to others, who share our faith. And to be mindful, like Paul states, “To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” and “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Something to think about and consider.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!