Eat the Chicken, Spit Out the Bones (Part II)

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It’s possible to learn from someone who is imperfect. The other day I suggested that a helpful way to do that is to take what is helpful from a person’s theology and lifestyle while carefully discerning what is unhelpful. I call it “Eat the chicken, spit out the bones.”

My friends who are theologically cautious will naturally point to the danger here. All of this is dependent on your ability to discern chicken from bone–and they’re right. In order to do this correctly, you have to have two things going for you already: You are committed to the Bible as the supreme source of revelation above any teacher or truth and you are regularly exposing yourself to the words contained within it.  If you aren’t doing either of these, you will choke on a bone eventually.  It’s also incredibly helpful for believers to study the Bible together because so much error happens in isolation. For the believer who is taking these ideas seriously, very little damage will occur.

Many times leaders who are theologically cautious will tell you what teachers or truths to avoid, which I understand. Frankly I have little interest in reading anything by Rob Bell, nor would I encourage anyone who is a believer to deeply read what he’s written. The problem with this type of philosophy is that it starts to spill over into things not written by our tribe…whatever tribe it is you belong to: evangelical mega-churches, Reformed Baptists, Charismatic firebrands, or house church writers.  I’ve learned from brothers and sisters in all of these groups and grown tremendously from it, all while spitting out a bone here and there.

My response to my theologically cautious friends is this: We need to grow in our discernment.  For too long, we’ve created a culture where we’ve been told what is good and bad and blindly followed along because someone said so. This kind of mentality has lead to us falling into deception whenever our trusted teachers turn to heresy.  Hebrews tells us the mature have become mature because they have practiced discerning between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). We shouldn’t make a practice of reading heresy and trying to find God in it, but we’ve made a mistake in only trying to read truth from our theological tribe and it’s caused us to be weak and immature.

So don’t go dumpster diving, looking for nuggets in every heretic’s writings, but get broad perspective on what the Bible teaches. Compare it to what the Bible actually says. If a truth you hear or read contradicts a clear teaching of Scripture, ignore it. Don’t put into practice things that aren’t patterned after the Lord Himself.  Let these things be your guide.

Photo Credit: Carving Chicken by J. Hendron

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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

3 responses to “Eat the Chicken, Spit Out the Bones (Part II)”

  1. melissadugan says :

    I like the idea of the 2×3 plan. I’m going to look for Neil Cole’s book

    Happy Connecting. Sent from my Sprint Phone.

  2. gunnarlarmstrong says :

    I think one of the biggest tragedies that we have in modern Christianity is that we divide ourselves into our little groups and only talk to people who agree with us. I think we have so much to learn from people who disagree with us. As you said — don’t go “dumpster-diving” but pick judiciously and learn.

    You talked about being led astray. I think the key here is accountability. Have people you trust who you can talk to and to whom you are willing to listen. They will help keep you straight if you have a teachable spirit.

  3. roguemillennials says :

    So true! The diversity of Christian movements can be a strength, when we let it inform us and give us perspective and humility WHILE we practice discernment and apply the wisdom of the Spirit and God’s Word!

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