Here is a thought both true and dangerous.1 Submission has a part in wise formation of opinions, beliefs, and convictions. “Submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21) is compatible with intellectual courage. The Philippians were admonished to “stand fast …with one mind striving together for the faith ….” (Philippians 1: 27).
Shall we withdraw honor from John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale? Probably not.
Shall we stifle independent thought? Maybe so. Maybe we should be skeptical of thoughts that emerge independently…at least hesitant.
“Do not be wise in your own opinion.” (Romans 12: 16). “ …that you may with one mind … glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15: 6).
“If anyone … does not consent to wholesome words … to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes … from which come … useless wrangling ….” (I Timothy 6: 3-5).
“…withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3: 6)
Our thinking should be realistic. It is not likely that my parents, teachers, and elders were right about everything. Nonetheless, it is proper to give the benefit of the doubt to my parents, my teachers, and my elders.
I am not advocating intellectual laziness or stubborn unwillingness to change. I am advocating a respectful, loving bias (I Corinthians 13:7, Love “believes all things …..”).
On one hand, It is right that a child believes what his parents tell him. It is right that a Christian is inclined to trust the teaching of his elders. It is proper for a wife to have a respectful inclination toward her husband’s judgment. On the other hand, every person becomes responsible for his beliefs. Conversions are often right. Often a person should change his opinion. “On the one hand … on the other hand:” both concepts are true, even though we do not know where to draw the line between them.
No man lives long enough or has the mental capacity to aggressively reconsider everything he has been taught. I believe that the sun is 93 million miles away. I believe that even though it does not seem that far away. Many voices from “the scientific community” say the universe developed without intelligent design. But I have explored that issue and confidently reject the mutation + natural selection + time hypothesis. I lack a definition for when to accept and when to explore. For example, I believe there has been a right reason for war. I also believe that many wars have been needless. I believe both concepts even though I lack a defining line between.
Conclusion: I am responsible for what I believe. Changing a belief may be the responsible course. Responsible thinking includes a submissive intellect.
1 Doing something dangerous because it needs to be done is courageous. Doing something dangerous for frivolous cause is wrong.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.