For Christians, truth is important. And with many in our day opting for theories that suit their feelings and emotions, the idea of objective truth is easily rejected, even among professing believers. “Because it works for me” becomes a better reason to accept different forms of the gospel, rather than it being true. But truth demands our attention. Pretending about or denying the existence of truth never sends it away; it is always binding on our lives and demands a response—it demanded one from me.
A few years ago, I became interested in seeking, understanding and defending truth. Now I see that certain factors have almost always prevented my accepting truth, even after being presented with evidence from Scriptures. Being reformed in Nigeria can be hard, and I struggled so hard to accept Reformed Theology. Accepting Reformed Theology also meant rejecting the form of Christianity that I was used to. Below are certain reasons why that process was difficult for me.
I was already used to a form of Christianity. When I see people struggling to reject the lies of the prosperity gospel (and, indeed, any other false gospel), I understand, because I was there. Unlearning can be difficult. It’s easier to be at peace than to be at war with what you are used to. I found it easier to accept the Christianity that I could see around me than to reject it.
I was scared of battling alone. I was a leader in a Christian organization when I began to embrace the doctrines of grace. I was in charge of teaching the Bible to the members of my campus fellowship. Imagine standing at a point where you are a champion of an idea and, next thing you know, you have to speak against that same idea—that was my position. I partially refused to reject certain doctrines because of the disagreements it would have produced among the leadership (and also among friends). I was to battle alone, and I was scared to do so.
I did not want to offend people. Being an easy going person, I would often try to avoid difficult situations. Ask me a question and I’d answer with a half-truth. I’m probably too scared of being criticized, and I am prayng to be more vocal with what I believe. If my accepting (and probably defending) an idea would result in my offending people, I usually take the stand of least resistance. Better to smile with everyone than to smile with none.
Rejecting the form of Christianity that I saw around me indeed difficult. I now see how certain factors helped my journeying to accepting Reformed Theology. While these are not proven steps to rejecting strange theology and accepting a more consistent one, I found them really beneficial in my ongoing search for truth.
I studied the Bible more. Studying the Bible was one definite reason why I ended up embracing the doctrines of grace. I made an attempt to read the entire Bible, cover to cover, in 2018. The result was that I saw more of the truths that I was struggling to accept clearly stated in Scriptures. I became more restless with my position theologically. Truth demanded a response, and I couldn’t fight against God’s word.
I took a break from Christian materials. I took a break from listening to too many sermons or reading many Christian books. I won’t be the first to note that many Christian books are really not Christian, or that many sermons are really not sermons. I went through a season of discarding many of the Christian resources that I owned. That took some time.
I prayed. My fear of being in possible error drove me to my knees. Everyone can’t be right about God, I realized. Someone or some group had to be wrong (or be partially correct), and I did not want to be that person or that group. The Bible is God’s word, and I wanted to interpret it correctly.
I thought hard. I found out that asking tough questions and getting biblically sound answers to those questions can be really helpful in sorting oneself amidst theological mess. In my experience, the weak threads in many systems are often exposed the moment you push hard enough. Paul urged Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Timothy 2:7). Prayerfully considering the Word of God brought clarity.
My experience has taught me to be patient with people struggling to let go of dangerous doctrines or sects within Christianity. Many factors often contribute to the refusal of many to abandon what they have already believed and held dear. Let us be quick to pray and slow to respond in anger or contempt. Even Christians still need the gospel presented to them. I certainly did.