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THE SIN OF CERTAINTY by Peter Enns

Most Christians come up, at some stage, against moments that threaten their fixed ideas of God.
These are key momentsof spiritual growth, which shake us out of the mental fortresses
that we tend to build around us, so as to create a safe religious space,
Church is often the most risky place to be spiritually honest.

If we leave these safe boundaries, life becomes uncertain.
We need to think out our own position rather than rely on others.
Our view of God defines our place in this chaotic world.
When those views are threatened our response is to guard them, fiercely.
But our faith shouldn't be based on correct thinking. We need to decouple the two.
True faith is not built on a knowledge set, but on a willingness to let go.
The sin lies in keeping God captive in a box of our own understanding.
"Strong faith" does not lie in absolute certainty!

Church majors on defending faith -
most sermons seem to focus on what we should believe,
or to expose the Godly view of a situation.
Knowledge-based faith, and thus a preoccupation with correct thinking,
is an unquestioned condition of much Christian culture.

History

In the eighteenth century and before, the ideas of the Church were considered as normative.
Truth lay in the Bible! However four new concepts altered this perception:
1. The concept of evolution, generated by The Origin of the Species.
2. The realisation that the true age of the earth is much older than the Bible assumes.
3. The findings of archaeology conflicted with many Biblical stories,
and even showed that some stories in the Bible came from the myths of other tribes and races.
4. Textual analysis uncovering different authors to those that had been presumed.
  This started with Moses and progressed through to the New Testament.

In addition conflict over slavery exposed different views within the Bible,
which failed to give the moral guidance which it was presumed to contain.
(This is a failure which has arisen in other areas in more recent years.)

The outcome of this, from many churches, was to build stronger defences,
have longer sermons, support Bible colleges;
to place a premium on reading the right books and keeping away from bad ones.
Of course churches disagreed about which were the right books!


Trusting God brings freedom from the need for certainty,
but does that not abandon our humanity, our freedom to decide?
I am not sure that Peter Enns is not chained to his own conceptions
even though many of his ideas do open new pathways to divinity.