“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
Growing Dominion, Part 29
Christian maturity comes down to making applications from the Bible. The Bible commends the wise, for example, and condemns the foolish. And so, if we are wise, the Bible praises us. If we are foolish, the Bible rebukes us. But here is an immediate problem. The Bible also tells us that the foolish reap what they sow, lots of bad things happen to them because of their folly, and that they consistently suffer the consequences of their own lack of foresight. The wise, on the other hand, also have lots of bad things happen to them, for so your fathers treated the prophets.
Some applications from the Bible are simple. The Bible says not to steal, and so we should not steal. But many applications (that are equally necessary) are not spelled out, and we must make the connections ourselves. Are we fools who simply have to eat their own cooking? Or are we wise, prophets unrecognized in our own country? In the Bible, sometimes people are told they are idiots because they are idiots. And other times, people are told they are idiots because the one speaking is an idiot. And further, the Bible says that when you are called an idiot, rejoice. And it also says elsewhere that when you are called an idiot, you should take the admonition to heart. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Nothing is more obvious than the fact that the Scriptures demand of us that we make uninspired applications to our own situations.
Now what does all this have to do with cultural maturity, and the taking of dominion? In order to apply the Bible in this way (the way that complete faithfulness demands), it is necessary to get involved in questions that divide Christians. And of course, here, as everywhere, there is a right way to divide and a wrong way to divide. But there is no way to be faithful to Scripture, and not develop (almost certainly divisive) views on matters of health, history, education, welfare, warfare, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, epistemology, and so on. These views may be implicit or explicit, but they will always be there.
When disagreement comes, one of the easiest ways to challenge the challenger is on the matter of authority and arrogance. “Everyone says you are wrong,” and, related to this, “who do you think you are?” “You! John, called by many the Baptist. What seminary did you go to? By what authority do you say these things?” Every sector of society is populated by sinners, and so the establishment may be arrogant, or the challenger may be arrogant, or both. But the important thing to note here is that the arrogance of the establishment is almost always invisible to everyone. And the challenger, whether he is one or not, almost always looks like a nut. I am reminded of the first doctor who established that doctors should wash their hands between patients. He was run out of the profession, and was clearly not a team player.