The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


An urgent call to humility

Don't get tangled up in certainty

The ELCA has recently gone through a decision that caused major disruption. This hasn't affected me directly, but it has brought something to the surface that we don't talk about very much.

When we speak of faith issues, we go to the Bible. Then we forget/decide to ignore what the Bible itself says about faith. It boldly states that faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). That seems to allow some leeway on the finality of many of our opinions. I add to this God's words in Job 38 and following. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? ... Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?" Then God's comment is one we need to take to heart, "Surely you know."

It ranks with Jesus' "You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times ... but I say to you ..." (Matthew 5:33-34). The ancient prophet states it this way: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8).

Is not this a call to humility? Don't these approaches to our rigidity encourage us to lighten up in our certainties? A theologian has boldly stated, "The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty." When we speak as if in ultimate certainty, we are proudly declaring, "I'm right, you are wrong." We then should remember God's words to Isaiah and to Job and Jesus' words to the Pharisees.

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February issue


Embracing diversity