In my college days at Samford University, I argued and debated theology like it was a recreational sport. One evening, Mark Watkins and I locked horns on the long enduring debate over human free will verses God’s sovereignty. It was a classic duel between two over-confident college students who believed that winning this argument had cosmic importance.
Once our discussion had dragged about an hour beyond its usefulness, there was silence between us. We had defended our ground and both sides were bloodied and word-weary. Our common ground came only by appealing to the mystery of God, realizing for the first time that we had missed the point.
Theology is a mystery to explore, discuss, and experience, but we used it as a weapon for intellectual posturing. As such, it had no life-giving quality. We were exhausted and discouraged until we reflected together on our own inability to fully grasp these things. Then I began to experience something like humility, and it was a relief.
Most of us are defensive about our religious persuasions until we reach the point of being willing to discuss our theology instead of defending it. I recognize that there are many belief systems with tenets that are contrary to my faith, but is Christian theology so frail that I have to defend it? I think not. The source of our confidence is not in our ability to defend the faith. Our confidence comes from God as we “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9).