A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
...... HOME ......
...... BACK ......
...... NEXT ......
... DONATE ...
Theological Innovation
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The theological view promoted in this book is not one which is accepted by the majority of Bible believers. In fact it is attacked by most conservative Christians. Even though the point of view presented in this book is actually much older than the pre-trib rapture view, which was popularized in the 19th century, yet, it is new to most readers. Conservative Christians tend to harbor a healthy fear of doctrinal innovation. After all, the apostle Paul said, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9).

It may seem that if the Bible is our sole authority on all matters of faith and practice, and we have now studied the Bible for almost 2000 years, that all new doctrines and all innovations in practice must be based on anti-biblical additions to God's word. Proof of this seems to be the multitude of heretical so called Christian cults with their extra-biblical scriptures and writings, such as the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ Scientist. However, this belief that innovation is unbiblical is based on two faulty assumptions, first of all, the assumption that the content of the Bible is simple and, secondly, the assumption that all truth contained in the Bible is presented in an obvious manner. However, if the information contained in the Bible is partially obscured (for example, by taking the form of parables) then great effort will be needed to mine its deeper truths. Furthermore, if the content is also highly complex, then its trove of theological treasure will appear to be virtually inexhaustible. Even though there are many simple, obvious truths in the Bible, it also contains important mysteries and paradoxes. Even though the clear simple foundational truths of the Bible have been understood for centuries or millennia, it is in understanding the mysteries and paradoxes of the Bible where the possibility for growth in our understanding of the Bible, exists.

The information contained in the Bible is complex because it forms the self revelation of God, a being of infinite complexity and the source of all the complexity in the universe. Complex information is hard to understand even when it is clearly presented. For example Schrodinger's equation for quantum mechanics is given below. It contains only eleven symbols. However, most people who look at that equation have absolutely no idea what it means, and people who have devoted almost their whole lives to studying it still have almost no idea about what it means. They only know that it works but not why it works.

Furthermore, the information presented in the Bible is not just there to entertain us. It is there because we are obligated to act on it. The more we understand the Bible the more responsible we are to obey it and the greater our chastisement if we disobey it. Therefore, Bible knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Like fire or nuclear energy, it can bring us blessing or condemnation. The apostle Paul said "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things?" (II Corinthians 2:15-16). In this passage Paul is teaching that our witness to unbelievers brings salvation and life to those who receive the gospel but greater condemnation to those who reject it because now they have less excuse. Therefore, God, in His mercy, not wishing to subject us to greater condemnation often uses symbolic language, such as parables, in order to obscure information from those who are unprepared or unwilling to receive it.

The process involved in understanding the Bible shares certain similarities with the way in which we understand God's other revelation of Himself, the natural creation. As we study God's creation we are confronted with facts and observations. From this we develop a model or hypothesis or theory to tie together a set of observations. Usually, the first hypothesis is based on rather crude measurements and limited conditions. With time the theory is tested using more careful measurements and subjected to a broader range of conditions. For example, classical physics developed in the 1700's by Newton and others was able to explain the behavior of many non-living physical objects. However, as technology advanced more carful measurements were made and they were made under more extreme conditions. It was found that the behavior of very fast and very small objects deviated from that predicted by Newton. Eienstein, Schrödinger and other great twentieth century scientists developed the theory of relativity and of quantum mechanics in order to explain the behavior of these very fast or very small objects. These theories are actually just more precise and broader versions of the theories of Newton, because for large, slow objects the equations of relativity and quantum mechanics become virtually identical to those of classical physics.

This example from science illustrates several important traits associated with the advancement of knowledge. First of all, the new theories, models or systems, build upon the old and preserve the essence of the old system. The difference is in the precision and breadth of understanding associated with the new system. This precision in measurement or analysis is based on an application of the results of the old theories. For example, without the development of electrical equipment and electronic instruments based on the classical theories of electromagnetism it would not have been possible to make the observations necessary to develop the theory of quantum electrodynamics.

Jesus told Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?" (John 3:12). Often we will not understand a more complex truth unless we have accepted a more fundamental truth. Jesus was once asked where he got his authority and instead of answering he asked them another question. "And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell whence [it was]. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. (Luke 20:2-8). Jesus was not willing to even present the gospel to people who would not accept a more basic revelation from God. If God in the flesh dealt in this fashion with people, one would expect Him to author the Bible in a similar fashion.

In order to arrive at the truth it is necessary to pursue it carefully and with logical rigor. Solomon advised his readers that wisdom and understanding are the result of diligent search "Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:3-5). Some might find this treatise to be dry and boring. However, the purpose is to arrive at the truth. A person who is accustomed to reading science fiction might find a text book on real science, such as molecular biology, to be dull and uncreative; however, the truth has its own attractiveness and wonder. In order to understand God's creation it is necessary to make boring, detailed and careful observations and measurements, but the result is the unraveling of a grand master design. So too, prophecy must be studied using interpretative rigor which might be dry and tedious. However, the result is the unraveling of a grand master plan.

This book is not a devotional treatise, but it is an attempt to better understand God's revealed truth. Knowing this plan will produce its own blessing, wonder, and motivation. The author hopes that the reader will approach this work with the confidence and diligence expressed by the author of the book of Hebrew "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (11:6).

Finally, God reveals the correct interpretation of the Bible not only to those who are willing to sit down and spend time to study and analyze it, but, more importantly, to those who are willing to obey it. Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself" (John 7:17). Many people refuse to accept certain doctrines, not because they are difficult to understand, or poorly substantiated, but because the consequences require us to make sacrifices. It is our hope that the reader will approach this book with prayerful humility and a willingness to accept the truth regardless of its implications and consequences.

top of page