Bales: certainty is not Pharisaism

Anthony Grigsby shared two quotes in James D. Bales’s book, The Faith Under Fire, Page 101. Since they’re lengthy, I’ve not put them in blockquotes nor regular quotes.

james-d-balesThere are those who seem to think that a person is a proud Pharisee if he affirms with conviction his faith in Christ, and claims to have seen at least certain of the truths taught in Christ’s word. Conviction to them is equated with self-righteousness. They seem to think it is a mark of humility to be uncertain about everything. They thank God that they are the uncertain, the humble, and set at naught those proud people who think that they can be certain about anything. They not only decry the keeping of the commandments of God, but they also say that it is impossible to be certain about any of the commandments of God. There are others whose relativism is an effort to justify their confusion, and to make a virtue out of their uncertainty. As G.C. Berkouwer said: “We live in a time when even theology is exploding with new and revolutionary problems. There is a danger that the serious student will be so impressed by all the problems in theology that he will circle all certainties by a ring of questions. When this happens, an inverse Pharisaism sets in. The doubting student says: I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as certain as those naïve people. Let Luther say it again: Spiritus Sactus non est scepticus. Indeed, the Spirit is not a skeptic.” (footnote 6).

The teaching of the Spirit will unsettle false positions and false attitudes, but it unsettles them by means of truth and not by means of relativism. We are told by the Spirit to prove all things and to hold fast that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21). And in doing this it is amazing how often we learn that people are divided not over what the Bible means, but over whether or not it is important for us to remain with what it teaches. Our certainty does not mean that we never have any problems. We do not say: Thank God that I am not as other men; for I do not have any uncertainties, questions, or problems. But it is not Pharisaism to build on the rock of His word (Matt. 7:24-28); to have the certainty that comes from the study of the Word (Lk. 1:1-4); to have the understanding that comes through reading the Scriptures (Eph. 3:4); and to have the witness of the Spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16). (Footnote 7)

[bctt tweet=”People are divided not over what the Bible means, but over whether … to remain with what it teaches.”]

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?