Critical Faith Theory

1 Corinthians 10:1-6

Looking back on history can be challenging. Often, we have to maneuver through romanticized versions of events. People, too. We learn things that surprise us about historical figures. But that shouldn’t be such a shock. We’re talking about people, after all. All people do and say strange things sometimes.

When we read the Bible, some of what’s there raises an eyebrow, too. We wonder how such a faithful person could do such an unfaithful thing. How could anyone chosen by God decide to turn against God? How could a people who experienced God’s power ever doubt again?

Yet, we read again and again those very things happening.

The Bible doesn’t shy away from displaying people for what they really are. It’s good the Bible portrays biblical heroes as they were. It helps us see ourselves for who we are. We don’t need romanticized versions of ourselves. We’re all complex. Sometimes all it takes is the journey from the pew to the parking lot to remind us.

Scripture calls us to look back critically at those who have gone before us. No, not with a fault-finding, condemning spirit. If we’re talking about people of the Bible, as we’ve already seen, the Bible willingly lays those faults out. Looking back critically means interpreting what we see and learn. In some instances, we’ll look back and see faith in God lived out in beauty and fidelity. Think of the great “faith chapter” of Hebrews. Other times, our faith review is to warn us.

Not looking back in these ways keeps us ignorant. That’s what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10. He said, “Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.” The point wasn’t to look back for the sake of criticizing an entire people. Rather, looking back honestly and objectively helps strengthen our walk with God. Our overall circumstances might be different, but we have the same kinds of choices to make as many people in the Bible.

We can learn to spot our own unfaithfulness when we read all the examples of faith the Bible gives us.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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