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Replay: People love explanations… their own explanations

Posted by on Jun 9, 2012 in discipleship | 9 comments

Replay: People love explanations… their own explanations

Two years ago, I wrote a post called “People love explanations.” There’s a tendency among all people to dismiss anything that falls outside of their own explanation – especially their own explanation of God. (Of course, often that understanding of God is actually based on someone else’s explanation.)

We do love our explanations… our understandings… sometimes, it seems, we love our explanations and understandings more than we love God himself. But, then, I could be wrong.


People love explanations

People like explanations. They like to explain things and have things explained to them.

When it comes to “theology” – what we think about God, which would include what we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us – we really, really like to have things explained to us. Unfortunately, Scripture doesn’t always explain things the way that we want them explained.

So, we explain them. Or, our favorite theologian or author or professor explains the things. Usually – almost always – we must go beyond what Scripture actually says in order to explain things in a way that is satisfactory. If not, things just seem… ummm… unexplained.

That’s fine. It’s good to think about things and try to understand. Of course, our explanations are probably wrong. We are imperfect creatures. But, still, we want things explained to us, or we want to explain them ourselves, and so we go about explaining things.

The problem comes along when someone else explains something in a different manner than the way that we explain them. It doesn’t matter that both explanations are interpolations and extrapolations of Scripture combined with our favorite philosophy and tradition. We like our explanation and so the other person’s explanation must be wrong… more wrong that our explanation certainly.

And, thus, we disagree, and label, and attack, and separate… over our explanations.

But, we love explanations. And, making everyone accept our explanation is what being a follower of Jesus is all about… right?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-9-2012

    Alan it is amzing how a wicker chair is made. All twisted up and looking so fine in the end. All things on this earth can be twisted like a pretzel. all have their own view, yet God has only one view and that is the foundation of His son Christ, and Bible backs it up. In Cor where Paul said the foundation is Christ and him crucified, can no other man lay than this. Now be careful how you build, one with hay, stuble, other with gold. Now i say just believe in God and trust no matter what it looks like in this present danderous world. trust god to build you off the belief at that foundation. There are many instructors and teachers in Christ, and I say listen do not adhere to them, bring all into your storehouse your new heart that God gave you and
    God will seperate the chaff from the wheat. If the end of what one hears is love and no gain for the one telling you it is probably the truth. Now if one is trying to coerce you and is looking for some sort of gain, then that one would be using the truth for their gain. And I know God will reveal all men’s hearts in God’s timing. It is about believing god, trusting god, thus following God. In Noahs’ time God only found Noah to be righteous, why is that? And God was displeased with man for man continuously devised evil, self gain with out love for God or His neighbor. do you think this is still going on today?

  2. 6-9-2012

    Alan, thanks
    But, we love explanations. And, making everyone accept our explanation is what being a follower of Jesus is all about… right?

    When there is no force, just prsentation, no judgment, and one treats all as free. then through free choice one decides in and of themselves to believe and follow, searching out the Jesus that was here born of the virgin, who did all that is right in and of his Father. was crucified shed his blood for the forgiveness total of all sin in his Fathers’ sight, (not the world’s) bringing in the new covenant, rising from the grave, showed himself to over 500 people as witnesses. Hung around for forty more days explaining all to the disciples. Then ascended to the right hand of the Father, sending the holy Ghost to the disciples, known today as pentecost, Thus all now that believe receive this same Holy Ghost that leadss all that beleve into truth, for there is none other.

    For me there is nothing to defend. I do not believe in pulling out any flesh swords. for flesh debating against flesh continues not stopping. But te spirit gives the right words at the right time that none of the opponents can reply, for truth is truth, this is what happened in Jesus’s day, and so they devised to get rid of him, just as the clergy devises to get rid of anyone setting anyone free as Jesus was doing in that day. Job security was their purpose in that day. And today the same thing goes on nothing is truly new under the sun (SON)

  3. 6-9-2012

    I have found one thing with most explanations. In order for them to hold any credibility, they must line up with the core of (balanced) scriptural truth and the Cornerstone. If it does not line up with other scripture or does not line up with the Person of Jesus and the example He left us with, as seen in scripture, I find the explanation to be dubious, at best.

    I did say most explanations…there are a few which are arguable, yet I find that these are usually less important in light of our salvation, our stance before God, our mission and, overall, the Kingdom. These are the ones where we need to exercise self-control, putting aside our pride and focus on the core of what is really important…people…who Jesus died for…who need Him…and our brethren who need to be encouraged and discipled. The arguable stuff is just fluff.

  4. 6-9-2012

    thanks John, I agree 100 percent

  5. 6-10-2012

    Here’s how I see it – my ‘explanation’ if you will :-)

    Wanting explanations is at the core of being human. The best explanations are based on careful observation and analysis – this is what science does. And the same is true of most fields of human endeavour; we cannot rightly achieve anything without understanding and organising and for that we need an explanation that works.

    When there’s little or no evidence we still feel the need to understand and explain, so when necessary we are willing to ‘conjure up’ explanations out of thin air. Myths, old wives tales, folk remedies, superstitions – they’re all based on explanations that are short on evidence.

    When it comes to the spiritual aspects of life we do the same thing. We take what is given and then invent what seems to be missing. And then when my explanation and yours disagree, we ignore one another or (at worst) we fight.

    I think we need to learn to accept the gaps and the mysteries and avoid filling them with explanations. But that is so hard to do!

  6. 6-10-2012

    “Usually – almost always – we must go beyond what Scripture actually says in order to explain things in a way that is satisfactory.”

    “It doesn’t matter that both explanations are interpolations and extrapolations of Scripture combined with our favorite philosophy and tradition.”

    How true. Particularly illustrative (but not anywhere near correct handling of Scripture) is the ‘Quest for the Historical Jesus.’ I recently read a very good book recounting the ongoing efforts of (probably unbelieving) folks to ‘extract’ the actual Jesus from all the later additions and changes (The Human Christ by Charlotte Allen). “Jesus scholarship has been shaped by nearly every intellectual fashipn of the past three centuries: English deism, Enlightenment rationalism, philosophical Idealism, Romanticism, Darwinism, existentialism, Marxism, and feminism.”

    It was especially amusing to realize that most of these movements have droppped off the map, but in each case, somehow, ‘Jesus’ came out looking like God made in their particular philosophical image. Being closedr to more fundamentalist groups, I see them also “going beyond Scripture” to support particular beliefs they hold.

    All of this should make us doubly careful when we have verses quoted at us…is that really what it is saying?

  7. 6-10-2012

    Yes Tom context, very important, and it is very easy to be out of context. Especially since a part of the old covenant is written in the new teastament, being christ when he walked the earth filling the old covenant. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, prior to his death. New will was noit in place until after his death. Hebrews 9:15-17

  8. 6-10-2012

    I appreciate all the feedback on this post. I’m glad to see that so many people are thinking through these issues together. May God help us trust him, and not our own understanding.


  9. 6-10-2012

    Amen to this


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