You can lead a horse to water, but don’t expect to lead a donkey anywhere it doesn’t want to go. The darn things are obstinate.
For that matter, we humans aren’t much different. When we get our minds set on something, it seems our ears grow long, our skin shades to gray, and we tend to squat our haunches down right where we are.
Our family devotional study through Claiming Christ highlighted what the Bible means by “believe in him” (that is, in Jesus). In doing so, we considered the common extensions various theologies attach to faith, attachments that make me think of donkey faith.
If our stance rests solidly upon the Word of God, then “go Donkey”. Nothing should move our faith in Jesus. However, if our pet belief or doctrinal position rests more upon denominational tradition or some other variation than the full truth of Scripture, then our stubborn resistance deserves a proverbial slap on the back side. Bad Donkey, no carrot.
In terms of biblical belief, the bi-millennial struggle for Christian leaders has been to rightly match our grasp of salvific faith (faith that impacts salvation) with all the New Covenant commands. Is it faith-alone, or is it faith-plus?
Those who go with the former, like followers of Martin Luther, stand solidly upon scriptural revelation for what it details regarding justification. It doesn’t take long, however, to find less stable ground beneath challenges to faith-alone proponents with all the references by Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and the other New Testament contributors regarding commands for Christian obedience.
Denominational leanings toward faith-plus beliefs openly recognize the clear biblical mandate for putting into practice the word of the Lord in order for a person, as Jesus worded it, to truly be my disciple. And yet, that strength often becomes its own Achilles heel when such efforts are touted as necessary for salvation.
So what should a good donkey do? When someone references faith-alone theologies, should we cop-a-squat or march on? Sadly, many denominational teachings historically pick one or the other with absolutely no allowance for answering why both show up in Scripture.
If you are a good follower of your church’s brand of teaching, you will likely only fit in if you stubbornly refuse to listen to what Scripture might say from the other point of view. The issue is not about toleration; it is about humility before the living Word of God.
There are a lot of donkeys out there. I’m one of them. Taking a stand (or taking a sit, as the case may be) is very biblical, but only if you are a donkey for Jesus, as opposed to simply for a church tradition.
It is my belief that the bible presents solid ground for aspects of both faith-alone and faith-plus theologies. The problem has been with the traditional exclusivism of both camps and the extent to which many have tried to apply their faith views in outright violation of what the Bible actually says. This is how I write this distinction in Claiming Christ:
This book will attempt to show the scriptural basis for faith-alone in receiving the gift of salvation and a more narrowly defined faith-plus in emphasizing scriptural expectations that confirm the indwelling of Christ in a genuine Christian.
This donkey believes that my salvation is offered as a free gift by faith in Jesus and what he accomplished for me upon the Cross with no merit or contribution on my part. That is faith-alone. But Scripture calls for me to become Christ-like by willingly participating in the transforming lead of the Holy Spirit within me. That is faith-plus. I ought not claim one and refuse the other.
It is a matter of stubborn faith. I listen to other views. I compare them to the Bible. I strive to value the scholarship of those who have gone before me without elevating their brand of theology ahead of what the word of God actually says. That is where this donkey plants his hiney.
How do you balance humility before the Bible with immovable faith?