I belong to a movement that I may have started and of which I may be the only member. The movement is called Don’t-Knowism. Put simply it means that I acknowledge that I don’t know the answer to many, perhaps most, of the questions that Christians love to discuss. I may have an opinion, but I could be wrong.
Don’t-Knowism is a very comfortable place to be.
Let’s face it. We Christians don’t know everything. We can’t know everything. The important thing is that we don’t need to know everything and we certainly don’t need to pretend that we know everything. God does know everything and we trust him to look after us and to make good, just and loving decisions. Our present and our future are perfectly safe in his hands.
God gave us, his human children, enquiring minds. We love to think about things, speculate about things, make up theories about things and discuss things. This is very good. However, since the early days of the church, many of the issues that Christians have debated have been, perhaps, not very important. The topics have often been about how God makes his decisions or who will be saved – topics that we cannot know the answer to because God is sovereign. He doesn’t make decisions according to rules that we humans can define or even comprehend. Nonetheless, debates on these issues have sometimes gone on for centuries and have sometimes become violent. Very violent.
I believe that the devil uses this tendency in humans to distract us from the things that God wants us to focus on. We get tied up in discussion of these topics when we should be focused on Jesus’ very clear instructions on what we should be doing. We talk and argue amongst ourselves when there are an awful lot of people very close to us who need to hear the words of Jesus and need to be loved and discipled. It is particularly evident that many of Christianity’s brightest and best spend much of their time researching and discussing obscure points of theology and doctrine when they could be assisting and guiding the many, many people who need help right now.
Here is a quick test which can help us to tell whether a contentious topic is important or not. Imagine that an angel appeared, sent by God, and told us the absolute truth about the topic under discussion. How much difference will knowing the truth about the topic make to the way we live our lives today and tomorrow? If the answer is “none at all”, or even “not very much”, then the topic is probably not worth spending a lot of time on – and it certainly isn’t worth getting angry about.
Another test is whether there is disagreement among Christians about the topic. If it is an issue that devout sincere Christians disagree about, then it is an issue that God has decided not to clarify, and therefore it probably isn’t that important.
I often say, when involved in a discussion on some point of theology “I can tell you what the truth is. The truth is that we do not know what the truth is.”
Let’s just admit that there are, and always will be, a lot of things that we don’t know and accept that we probably don’t need to know them. Then we can get on with the important stuff – following the teachings of Jesus.