If I were smart, I’d wait until we were coming up on Easter before I posted something about the resurrection. But, here I am writing about it now…just before Thanksgiving. I guess I could make an argument that it still makes sense since, as a Christian, the empty tomb is something I’m thankful for.
One question that is debated quite often about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is what day He was crucified and what day he rose again. Some say He was crucified on Wednesday, then there was Thursday, Friday, Saturday (three days) and He rose on Sunday. Others say it was Thursday and that was day one. Of course, the more traditional understanding is that it was Friday to Sunday.
I guess one of the things that comes to mind when I hear these questions, particularly when the debate gets heated, is “Does it really matter that much?’ I mean, really. These debates do not contest the idea that He was crucified or why. They don’t argue about whether He rose from the dead. That much is understood and agreed upon (by believers, anyway).
So the question is, why are so many Christians willing to fight for something like this that really isn’t all that significant? It’s not that I don’t think we should discuss these things and gain a more thorough understanding of various specifics of our faith. I believe we should discuss them. My issue is not that these discussions are happening, but that they get so hostile.
There are so many things that various denominations fight to the death over that just are not essential to salvation. If we’re going to “die on a hill” for a particular belief, let’s at least make sure it’s a hill worth dying on. If it’s a central doctrine of Christianity such as the Trinity, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the sovereignty of God, etc., then it’s worth taking a stand. But, if you’re fighting about what day Jesus was nailed to the cross…just not that important.
It could be other topics, as well. I’ve heard people take a stand on prevenient grace (Armenian or Roman Catholic theology) vs. irresistible grace (Calvinist theology). Or pre-millenialism, post-millenialism and a-millenialism. What about the debate about transubstantiation? Perhaps, of those mentioned so far, this one is a bit more important. But still, is it as important as the bodily resurrection of Christ? If it were, I would think that the Bible would be more clear about that.
And there we have the heart of the issue. When you’re going to hold a belief in a particular doctrine, the first question to ask is, how clear is the Bible on the issue. The hard part about that question is that, from any given person’s perspective, the Bible is often very clear, as is the case with transubstantiation. Those proponents will cite passages that they feel are quite clear on the matter. Yet, someone else will come along and say that this could just as easily be read as allegorical, or they may point out other passages that seem to refute the idea outright.
When that happens, it obfuscates the truth of the matter. And when the truth is not completely clear, we need to be careful how tightly we hold to a particular belief. After all, God is pretty darn powerful. Not to mention, He’s pretty bright. If He wanted to make sure we “got it” with respect to a particular issue, He’d make sure that that issue was spelled out clearly in His Word. When that isn’t the case, it seems to me that the less clear a teaching, the less tightly we should hold to it.
So, Christians, let’s look at things objectively when evaluating our beliefs. Let’s allow evidence that seems to go against our position and take it into consideration. Remember, we are all fallible humans trying to understand an infallible book. The book may not be fallible, but since we are, we can make mistakes interpreting it.
What are some hills you’re willing to die on? What beliefs are you not ready to fight for?
Grace, love and peace.