July 15, 2020
Tension of Biblical Balance
Any student who studied under Robertson McQuilkin in the 1980s left with this phrase etched in their brain; “Walking the tightrope of Biblical balance.” Through the years he developed and refined this thought. His final version reads, “It seems easier to go to a consistent extreme than to stay at the center of biblical tension.” Regardless if you say, biblical balance or bible tension, today more than ever, Christians and churches need to practice this principle. We live in a world with more extreme beliefs and practices than anyone could count; this is true in churches, society, and individuals.
We should not confuse Biblical balance or Bible tension with secular philosophy’s idea of reconciling the conflict between a thesis (truth) and an antithesis (a contradiction) by combining the two (synthesis) through compromise—"you give up that belief and I’ll give up this belief.” Humanists advocate that truth evolves and this kind of negotiation produces a new thesis (truth). The tension of biblical balance means we live according to a true perspective of right and wrong based solely on the standard of God’s Word. It is not influenced by our individual bias, a church’s tradition, or cultural norms. This is where the tension arises. Human nature prompts us to look for a comfort zone by conforming to either an extreme on the right or the left of a true Biblical perspective.
Overemphasizing one truth of Scripture and ignoring others without allowing all biblical truths to qualify and balance our beliefs brings error and can even lead one into heresy or cults. Maintaining a biblical balance is an ongoing task because of the ever-changing winds of doctrine, the trickery of men, and craftiness in deceitful scheming (Eph 4:14). When considering God’s perspective on right and wrong, we must guard against allowing the social and cultural conflicts around us to affect our Christian value system. Believers around the world have suffered persecution and martyrdom since the beginning of the Church. But not in my lifetime, have I witnessed the assault on Christianity as today in the USA. Even so, we must be willing to stand in the center of biblical tension and declare the whole counsel (will, purpose, plan) of God” (Act 20:27 NKJV).
Churches and denominations are most often divided over doctrine that requires people to ignore certain verses. Vance Havner said, “The opposite of dogma is ‘dodge-ma’ – the clever art of evading issues.” This topic has long been a study of mine because I was schooled and served in churches that held extreme beliefs that resulted in legalism. In a work-oriented doctrine, teaching about grace is always avoided. Biblical teaching about predestination and election were never discussed. However, the opposite extreme, are those who teach grace to such a degree they ignore any reference to the works of believers and man’s ability to choose. You must be cautious if you discover you have been overemphasizing one area of Scripture and disregarding others. It can lead to what we call ‘pendulum-swing theology’ i.e. someone trashes all they have learned and swinging to the opposite extreme. Walking in the biblical balance demands we consider all scriptures rather than ignore one.
Today, the issue facing those who are trying to walk in God’s perspective of right and wrong is the social and cultural pressure to suppress anyone who speaks out on the evils of sexual immorality, abortion, gender identity, false religions, or anything that limits the ability of godless humanity and their effort to destroy Christianity. This has led many Christian leaders to remain silent. C. S. Lewis said 50 years ago; “We live in a secular culture where Christians often feel strong pressure to adapt their faith to the culture or to keep faith private. Are you sometimes too willing to compromise your faith or the truth to win people? Are there times when you remain silent when you should speak?”
Last October I wrote the SW, “Why Are They So Afraid?” If Christianity is just another religion, as some assert, why fear it? Others argue that Christianity is worthless and irrelevant to contemporary culture. Secular humanists contend the Bible has been disproven by scientific theories and is therefore a useless document. So, why have fifty-two countries around the world banned this worthless, irrelevant, and useless document? Why are some believers afraid to examine all Scripture on a subject?
Often walking in Biblical balance is a lonely path because others avoid the tension. Seven years ago, with bated breath we watched Nik Wallenda walk a high wire across the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park. Gusts of wind, a shaky wire, and the pull of gravity were constant factors. He was all alone with no one to steady him, but he adjusted, stayed balanced, and kept walking. When we walk in the tension of biblical balance, many forces will pull against us—adjust, stay balanced, and kept on walking.
Sustaining Word for the Week: Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act—Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
By: Dr. Arnold Gause
The Sustaining Word can also be found at Sustainingword.org