The Worship Quote of the Week for (05/23/2006):

"That's Your Opinion"
Theologian Marva Dawn desires to help the church reclaim words that have been corrupted. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is another excerpt from her wonderful little book entitled TALKING THE WALK: LETTING CHRISTIAN LANGUAGE LIVE AGAIN (2005). Here, she deals with the confusion between eternal truth and personal opinion.

The value of “Opinion” in our society has been so corrupted as to have taken on sinful proportions. Opinions have become our personal gods or, more accurately, the proof that we are our own gods. They signify our autonomy, a massive leveling of all convictions, the abandonment of all standards, the elimination of truth.

It drives me nuts! I have tried to talk with certain pastors about the historic faith, about doctrines upon which the Church has agreed for centuries, and the response is always, “Well, that’s your opinion; we’re entitled to our own.”

Certainly there are truths beyond opinion. Wouldn’t everyone agree that a loving marriage is better for us that hatred and distrust? Don’t we all think generosity is preferable to stinginess? Doesn’t the world need peacemaking and justice more than violence and oppression?

Once, a few years ago at a youth convention, a lovely young lady came earnestly to talk with me. She asked me what I thought about a certain matter of sexual ethics. I answered her with the most careful biblical reading and ethical nuancing I had gained in years of training.

She responded, “Well, I just wanted to know your opinion.”

“That wasn’t my opinion,” I replied. “If I had given you my opinion, it would have been the opposite because I really would like to escape these biblical truths and say what pleases everybody. I tried to tell you as faithfully as I could what all my studies have discerned God is saying. That’s much more sound, more reliable, more eternally true than my measly opinion.”

She looked at me in shock. How could anyone question the importance of personal opinion? How could anyone give an answer different from her own private feelings? Is there really such a thing as public truth?

Yes there is. And truth’s name is God.

—Marva Dawn, TALKING THE WALK: LETTING CHRISTIAN LANGUAGE LIVE AGAIN. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2005, 83. ISBN 1-58743-061-4. Highly recommended.

[To be honest, it isn’t easy to discern every single aspect of biblical truth. I believe whole-heartedly that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; but when it comes to knowing what every page of Scripture is trying to communicate, there are still some significant hurdles to cross. Take a look at your finest heroes from church history. Did they agree on everything? Consider your five most treasured devotional classics. Are these authors in agreement on every aspect of theology? Probably not. So, let us pray that the Lord will give us energy, courage, wisdom, and discernment in relentlessly pursuing truth. May he also give us gracious spirits as we wrestle with hard questions, sometimes in disagreement with those who really love him, those whom he loves, those whom we must love for the cause of Christ. I suggest that this is one reason that the church needs strong Scripture-rich hymns, songs, and creeds that help worshipers faithfully to express and embrace God’s truth.]

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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