I ran across a term that I hadn’t heard before in the book, “Left Behind and Loving It”. The term was ‘epistemological crisis”. It is when you learn something that turns your whole world upside-down. It’s not just a paradigm shift, but it is a moment when your belief system is challenged by a truth discovery.
How do you respond in such an instance? Perhaps the better question is, “How many time have you changed political positions, religious conceptions or intellectual positions when something challenging has been presented to you?”
The Scriptures can effect such a crisis. Actually, that is what Scripture should do. The individual should be confronted by issues, problems and confusing texts.
How do you respond to Scripture which challenge your belief system (even a ‘Christian’ belief system)? Do you ignore it, shut it down, rely on cultural Christianity to save the day? Or, do you just say, “That must be wrong”, and forget about it?
Maybe you decide to look for answers from someone else. You look for someone who is ‘on your side’, and who you can trust. You reinforce your beliefs to defend yourself against the troubling questions Scripture brings up.
These are simply the efforts of the Old Adam to avoid the onslaught of the challenging propositions in Scripture. The Old Adam can hide behind ignorance, other people’s knowledge, avoidance, or changing the subject. This is all rooted in fear.
We are afraid that God will kill the Old Adam. We identify so closely with him, that we find fig leaves to protect our vulnerability from a God who is trying to expose it. Ultimately, this means we fear the cross.
You see, the cross is not just for Jesus. It is for us, too. We use our strengths, resources or other means to defend us against a God who inspired the authors of Scripture to put some challenging things before our eyes.
However, once the text troubles us to our core, then God is able to make us new; to re-birth us through the process. If you allow this to happen, it is scary. You will have to depend on the Holy Spirit to help you understand the Scripture. He will have to be your guide as you try to distinguish between Law and Gospel. He will have to guide you to find Christ in the passage that troubles you. He will have to be the one to hold your hand as you are transformed from arrogant to humble.
Church plays a vital role in this process of ‘letting go’. You may experience a crisis of faith (this is not necessarily a bad thing). Without the guidance of your pastor, you can end up in heresy or agnosticism. The pastor is concerned with your eternal salvation, and can be a support as you struggle to understand, reflect, and ultimately, grow through the reading of Scripture. Forsaking the assembling together would be foolish and dangerous.
May God keep you in His will,