Things I Used To Think: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
(With Apologies to Michael Newnham)
I used to think that theology could be argued and by such argument, one could convince another person of the truth of a position. Now I know that whatever is not presented in love to another person will be seen as having little, if any, value.
I used to think that preaching could change people’s lives. Now I know that while a sermon may entertain, educate and/or inspire, it is only the life of the one behind the sermon that can touch another life, for good or for ill.
I used to think that there was value in absolute certainty. Now I know that uncertainty leads to further questioning, further knowledge and a deeper appreciation of those who think differently than oneself.
I used to think that people in a congregation were there to be spoken to and led. Now I know that, in the words of Chrysostom, “Sometimes the ears of the people are holier than the mouths of the priests…” and some of them may know more of God than myself.
I used to think the Bible was a single book to be outlined, categorized and interpreted. Now I know that the Bible is a collection of history, poetry, chronicles, laws, memoirs and letters, all of which combine to form a unique and singular narrative of God’s revelation and his love for the world he created.
I used to think that the Church was the creation of the Bible. Now I know that God used the Church to assemble the canon of writings we know as the Bible.
I used to think that Tradition was restrictive and dead. Now I know that Tradition can be liberating and alive.
I used to think that no one had struggles and disappointments like myself. Now I know that everybody has struggles and disappointments like myself, and many have far worse.
I used to think that God would eventually bring all “true believers” into my particular Church tradition – Evangelical, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, Reformed, Baptist, etc.. Now I know that Our Lord has “other sheep… which are not of this fold…” and he leads each of us to places best suited to who we are as individuals.
I used to think that there were answers to all theological questions, you just had read enough, study enough, pray enough and/or work hard enough to find them. Now I know that we indeed “look through a glass darkly”, and some answers have to wait until we “see face to face”.
I used to think that there was some God given meaning in all tragedies. Know I now that we simply live in a fallen world and tragedies come with the territory and many cannot be explained.
I used to think that with enough theological education and learning, we could arrive at definitive answers. Now I know how much I don’t know and that, if we are theologically and intellectually honest, any definitive answers will likely lead to yet more questions.
I used to think that The Beatles would get back together….
I was wrong about that one as well…