2/27/08

Fact vs. Opinion

(Okay, here I go again!) How do we, as Christians, tell the difference between fact and opinion? I've been wrestling with that all of my adult life....

I grew up in a "the heart of the Bible belt" and being taught, among many things, that the KJV was the only good version of the Bible and that contemporary Christian music was less than ideal. When I went to college, I went to a Southern Baptist Christian school (Carson-Newman in Jefferson City, TN). As a Christian school, we were required to take certain religion classes. I remember being sooooo excited to learn in class that the KJV was only a translation of the Bible, not the "original" Bible (don't know what I thought before then....guess I was a little naive), that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. I couldn't wait to tell my Dad, thinking I would somehow "set him free" so that he could read other versions of the Bible that would be easier to read (even though I was an English major, I wasn't much of a fan of Shakespeare or Shakespearean English!!). I was pretty bummed -- and my parents were dumbfounded and shocked (I'm sure they felt something just shy of me selling my soul to the devil!). Needless to say, we didn't see eye to eye. At that time, I began using the NIV but I do not use that version now personally and I do NOT recommend the "TNIV" version. There are many version that I wouldn't recommend but that's a rabbit to chase another day. Our version of choice is the ESV -- a translation closer than the NIV to the original Hebrew and Greek and in a "modern" English. My relationship with my parents is GREAT and I love them and respect their opinion and I think we've learned over the years to agree to disagree on that topic (and maybe a few others!). :) [Seriously, this is NOT a post ragging on my parents or their beliefs -- hang on, I'm getting to the "meat" of this message!] So, here's what's going on with me lately -- everyone is aware that we homeschool and one thing some homeschooling families like us do is things called co-op. One co-op we attend meets every Thursday and offers a variety of classes to take. Nathan for example is taking an art and a science class and Caleb is taking a preschool class. The other co-op we attend meets once a month and offers a different activity each month. We've done many things together -- local parks, touring the Statehouse in downtown Columbus, going to the Ohio Historical Society -- field trip type things. Recently, we had an "Arts and Music" day. [This is also NOT a post ragging on this co-op -- Hi, Laura! -- this is ME sharing MY opinion!] We split the kids up into 2 groups and one woman taught an art class and another woman taught a music class. I was not there when this happened (but a good friend was), but I know that at some point during the music class, the kids were told that drums were not good. I knew from growing up that there were churches and groups of Christians who did not use drums (and some, not any instruments) in church so this wasn't a surprise to me. And I was not upset -- I very calmly explained to Nathan that we do not believe that way and tried to explain why other people do believe that way. It's hard to explain to any child how adults interpret the Bible in different ways -- to Nathan, the Bible is black-and-white (maybe we could learn something from him!) and there shouldn't be any "gray" areas where we come to misunderstandings. Oh, if it were that simple. Anyway, Nathan did not have a hard time understanding what I was trying to say and it, quite frankly, didn't bother him one bit. However, I decided to ask around and see if I could find someone to back up that belief with scripture. I sent out a message to my MOMYS email group (MOMYS stands for Mothers of Many Young Siblings and we have an email digest for women to share questions, concerns with having large families, etc) asking for scripture and no one was able to respond with any that mentioned that drums were "bad". I did hear from 2 MOMYS that said that they don't believe in the use of drums because drums can be used for evil purposes (such as, one MOMY mentioned, communicating with the spirit world). While that's totally on target -- any instrument can be used for bad purposes -- does that mean they are forbidden to be used to praise and worship God? (If you haven't figured it out yet, my answer to that question would be YES!) You've all probably seen half-dressed women laying across baby grand pianos singing provocative songs...organs are notorious for providing an eerie soundtrack for a scary movie...but yet those 2 instruments are used quite frequently in churches. Now, I'm not trying to say "they're wrong" and "I'm right" -- what I am trying to say is this --

If you can't base what you believe based on scripture, then what you have is an OPINION and we must be careful how we express our opinions to others (especially to children)!

Now, don't misunderstand me -- I have "opinions" that I follow and try to teach to my children that aren't specifically listed in scripture. For example, there's nothing in scripture (trust me, I've looked!) that says "Thou shalt not use birth control" yet we believe that God has lead our family to not use hormonal forms of birth control, to trust in Him for the final determination of our family size (since He's already written our story anyway....). Since I can't point to a verse that says birth control is bad, can I TELL other people it is? No -- what I can do is say "This is what I believe the Lord has lead me to do (or not do)" and "This is why I believe what I believe". I don't have a problem with this woman telling my children that she believes that drums are bad -- what I am uncomfortable with is someone TEACHING my children that something is wrong or bad unless, of course, there's a "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not" to back it up! Be careful, folks -- because making "blanket statements" like "drums are bad" alienate people from churches. They say to themselves "Well, that church (or that Christian) believes drums are bad and I happen to love drums (or play them) so I guess I'm not welcome there". [Personally, I wouldn't attend a church who believed that way because I happen to love all forms of Christian music (except for really hard rock or rap which I just can't stand -- but that's my opinion) and drums are definitely one of my favorite instruments and I firmly believe that can be used in worship!] Now, there are certainly some things that we must take a firm stand on, regardless of whether or not it alienates others or not -- we are told that Christ and the gospel are stumbling blocks and we should never stand there and let someone water down the gospel or deny who Jesus is without taking a stand about it for fear of hurting their feelings. But, that's another rabbit for another day, possibly.

The moral of this story is -- be sure you not only know WHAT you believe but WHY you believe it and if it is your church's or your family's OPINIONS or based on God's Word. And be careful what opinions you try to "teach" to other people. Don't be afraid to express your beliefs but don't judge others or point fingers because they don't believe like you do.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Karen, on a good subject.
One question: In this section:
While that's totally on target -- any instrument can be used for bad purposes -- does that mean they are forbidden to be used to praise and worship God? (If you haven't figured it out yet, my answer to that question would be YES!

Paula


Did you mean that the answer to that question would be No? Or am I reading this wrong?

Stevens Clan said...

I agree with you, Paula -- any instrument can be used for either purpose and yes, I believe any instrument can definitely be used in praise! Sorry if that was unclear.