Merriam Webster dictionary describes contrarian as “a person who takes a contrary position or attitude; specifically : an investor who buys shares of stock when most others are selling and sells when others are buying” (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contrarian).
One of the most important lessons I learned in college – contrary to what was taught in high school – was to consider an author’s conclusion carefully and then, reach my own. This maxim has become all the more crystallized throughout the years as I have encountered different situations.
One can disagree for the sake of being disagreeable, or as an honest way to get at the truth. We have often heard it said that to be a Christian is to be like a salmon, swimming upstream on the river of mainstream ideas.
To be a Christian, to a degree is to be a contrarian. However, I believe that there is an element to which this idea applies to the river of Christian ideas nowadays. There are few Christian figures that get my “benefit of the doubt”. More accurately, there are quite a few Christian figures that I trust instinctively due to their testimony throughout the years (more than likely, you will see their writings referenced in this blog).
Nevertheless, we are all human. We are all susceptible to selfishness and to manipulation, even of God’s Word for our own benefit (I still remember the well-known and well-liked preacher who stated from the pulpit his desire for society to be ruled by kings as in the Old Testament. However, he stated that preachers should be the ones to rule not just the church, but society at large. How convenient!) Churches nowadays are not immune to the same temptation that befall politicians the world over. If laws are necessary for companies and government agencies to guard against abuses like cronyism, it is because, truly “the heart is deceitfully wicked”. It is also a wonder that the same measures do not exist in the modern American church. Many leaders, unfortunately, have fallen to these temptations. That is why I believe it is important to consider everything in the light of Scripture.
I am by no means a Bible scholar. Though it is my strong desire to do so someday, I have yet to attend formal Bible education. For the time being, the only “thing that is needful” for me is what the Bible describes: to sit at the Master’s feet and ask Him to teach me His Word by His Spirit.
That is what this blog will attempt to address whenever a spiritual subject is addressed. Even well-held Christian notions have to be examined in the light of Scripture. God’s Word is inerrant. We are not. My aim is not so much to teach, as it is to learn. I am a long way from becoming “like the Bereans” during Paul’s time. I need discipline and to organize my time better in order to maximize the time I devote to studying the Bible. However, I have learned not to take anyone’s conclusions and make them my own. Quite the contrary.
My contrarian streak stems from a conversation I had with my father at age seven while we waited for Mass to start. As I sat there, restless, I turned to my dad and stated: “Daddy, I have a question”. I am sure, by this point, my exasperated father was used to my constant probings on every subject imaginable, but this time it turned out differently. “Go ahead”, he said somewhat dismissively. “Daddy, doesn’t the Bible say we are not to bow down to images?” To which he responded: “That’s right, the Ten Commandments say so”. His answer to my follow-up question completely changed my view of my father up until that point and of every person in authority since, regardless of their title. “So if the Bible says ‘not to bow down to images’, what are all these images doing in ‘God’s house’ daddy?” My dad was stumped. Thankfully, he did not attempt to answer. Instead, he left the question hanging in the air allowing the silence to serve as his answer. And as he did so, I realized: “He doesn’t know!” How many of today’s religious leaders are like my father and honestly “don’t know” why they worship as they do? The apostle Paul described the reason and purpose of his life when he wrote “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10).
Let me state here that I do not yet know Him as Paul knew Him when he wrote those words. But there is a part of me that desires to. I am thankful for pastors, teachers and ministry leaders who have devoted their gifts to the edification of the Body of Christ. They deserve honor and respect. However, this does not mean that I automatically buy anything anyone is selling. I am thankful for God’s Spirit who does what Jesus said He would do:
1. Remind us of what Jesus taught; and
2. Lead us into all truth (John 16:13).