A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 2

Deductive, Inductive, Abductive

This lesson explores answering theological questions, focusing on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Three approaches—deductive (authority-based), inductive (Bible-centered), and retro-abductive (community-driven)—are discussed. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 highlight the importance of diverse perspectives in theological discussions.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Deductive, Inductive, Abductive

I. Introduction to Theological Questions

A. Different Interpretations of Theological Questions

B. Importance of Understanding and Answering Theological Questions

II. Exploring Different Approaches to Answering Theological Questions

A. Deductive Approach

B. Inductive Approach

C. Retro-Abductive Approach

III. Retro-Abductive Approach in Theological Study

A. Reading Scripture in Diverse Community

B. Seeking Different Perspectives and Understandings

C. Evaluating Various Proposed Answers

D. Comparing Views and Seeking the Best Explanation

IV. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 as Examples of Retro-Abductive Approach

A. Acts 17:11 - The Bereans' Examination of Scripture

B. Acts 15 - Different Perspectives in the Church's Discussion

V. Practical Considerations and Conclusion

A. Seeking Diversity in Community for Different Perspectives

B. The Importance of Understanding Others' Beliefs

C. Focusing on Common Ground and Evangelical Unity

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Deductive, Inductive, Abductive
Lesson Transcript

One of the preliminary questions is, how in the world do you answer a theological question? I think of something as widespread and significant as what does it mean to get the baptism and the Holy Spirit? I work with a gamut of people, and I've got people who say, "Well, after you've been saved for a while and after you realize that there's more available, you come to a meeting, and you pray for the spirit. And when it comes, it's like grabbing 400,000 volts of electricity. You will know it and it'll release all kinds of stuff in you. It'll transform your life and you'll never be the same again." Others say, "Oh, nonsense. You get the baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion. It's part of the package, and you've got the Holy Spirit. Yeah, you grow in the spirit. But this second work of grace stuff. Come on, you get everything you need at conversion. You just need to learn how to live it out."

Now, those are very different interpretations. There are several in between. How do you decide a question like that? For me, the question with my own background is how many parts to the person? So how many parts to the person? Okay, turn your Bible, Thessalonians 5:23. And what does it say? May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. And what does it say? What does it say? May your whole what?





And body.

Body. How many parts of the person?


Three. And that was really, really important in my growing up because I was in a more [inaudible] understanding in the Spirit as holy, the body and the soul are sinful. And the play between those was incredibly important for the way I grew up. As I got to learn a little bit, I looked at Genesis 2:7. This is the formation of the first human being. "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul." If I look at it literally King James. So you got dust plus breath or spirit equals soul. I thought soul is a part of the person, but here it's dust plus breath equals soul.

In fact, all the contemporary translations translate living person, is the soul a part of the person or the soul of the whole person? See? And the question is how many parts of the person I read Genesis 2:7, there are two parts. Read first so there's five, 23, and there are three parts. And guess what? It gets more complicated than that. How do you answer a theological question? So what I want to do here is look just in a methodological way at three different approaches, and I'll tell you which one I think is right in just a second. How do you go about answering a theological question?

The first one is deductive. I'm not thinking of deductive logic, but a similar. But deductive is very simple. I've got a question like that. How many parts of the person, how do I get the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I go to a trusted person or an authority source, and I ask them, preferably a person. So I go to somebody I trust, and I just ask them. So my phrase is, go to your John and ask. But the question is, which John? John Wesley, John Calvin. Oh, maybe John Piper. Oh, John MacArthur. I'm sure Piper and MacArthur agree on everything. And see, that's the problem. Well, I go to my trusted person.

Okay, what's the biblical basis of that? That your Bible? Hebrews 13, yeah. Look at to send to do theology. The Bible closed. Just know that. To send to do theology. The Bible closed. He really is. But you got to read the whole Bible forever, that question. Well, not quite. Hebrews 13:17, "Have confidence your leaders and submit to their authority because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account, do this. So the work will be a joy, not a burden." What does it say? Have confidence your leaders. And when they answer a question, submit to them and they'll be accountable to God.

So here it is. If you want to do good theology, go to your pastor, your trusted theological person, your discipler, and ask them. Now, what's the advantages? It's quick. Your guide gives you an answer. You don't have to spend the rest of your life trying to figure out and it's all confusing. He's an expert or she's an expert, studied. It's easy. And frankly, if they're wrong, it's their problem, not mine. Well, it's mine, but it's great. It's quick. It only takes a few minutes to text and say, "Hey, what's the answer?" And they say, "Well, this's the answer." "Okay, there we go." Well, you see some of the disadvantages too, because it's limited to one brain.

And when somebody asks me, "Well, now wait, I can only say my John believes." I can't say I believe because really, I haven't come to this point of believing. I've come to the point of trusting that John is right. And maybe the biggest problem is if you do it that way, the authority is really a human being, not God or scripture. Now, for young believers especially, I think this is a really good method to get started out but recognize the limitations of it. Deduction, go to John, ask John or Jill as the case may be, and trust them because they're your spiritual authorities.

That's true, especially in creative denominations like the PCA Presbyterian Church of America. Their creed is Westminster Catechism of Faith. And that's the authoritative voice for them. And the experts are at least theoretically supposed to tell us how to interpret the Westminster Catechism, which in turn understood via a faithful interpretation of scripture. There's a whole another approach. It's called inductive. And the answer here is don't go to John for sure. Don't go to John. In fact, do not go to any helps of any kind. Go to what? Go to the Bible.

Why do I go to the Bible instead of other people or some book, or some website, or something like that? Fundamentally, I want the authority of my life to be God, not a person. God's given me his word. I want to go to the word and get an answer to the question. And then once I get that Bible answer, then I can evaluate other views and why they're wrong, because they don't come to the right answer. And then my confidence is strong because I'm going to God leaving all the human stuff behind.

Great idea. What's the scriptural basis for it? Well, there's a couple. 2 Timothy 3:16. Again, familiar passage for many of you. 2 Timothy 3:16, all scriptures God breathed useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, and righteousness. So all scriptures God breathed so that the sermon of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. That's why God gave us a scripture so he can be mature and equipped. So use it. It's so simple. You just read the Bible and see what it says. Then my confidence is in scripture. My confidence is in God on leaving all the stupid, all the human stuff behind. So it's personal. I'm learning for myself. My authority is directly from God. There's no intermediary involved. And that biblical authority means I can speak with divine authority. It comes directly from scripture. Limitations.

Well, the limitations a big piece of it. I come with a preunderstanding. I came with what my mommy taught me and surprisingly hard to get past what my mommy told me. And that particular question I talked about how many parts of the person, that idea that a human is three parts was so deeply ingrained to me by early disciples in my life. It's very difficult for me to get past that. And because every time I read the Bible, I read that direction. And it's hard to get past a preunderstanding when it's raw and we'll look at someone to get in there. Again, it's limited to one brain. It's limited to my brain now instead of John's brain. You see, I've got a predilection for community. Getting rid of those presuppositions is really hard. And then have you noticed the Bible is big and complicated?


And if you're going to really do an inducted Bible study, you've got to do a lot of work to make sure you get everything the Bible says about things. So there are limitations, advantages. So deductive, go to John, go to Jonas, ask, get a personal answer. It's easy, it's understandable, it's applicable, or go to the Bible and go directly to God. It's a little more time-consuming but then my authority is scripture. Now, as you might imagine from hearing this already, I don't think either one of those the best ways to do things. When I think of this deductive, inductive, there's a third method in logic. It's called retro-abductive or abductive. It's called... If you've probably never heard that word, but it's a real word.

And what is retroductive is what we actually use in science. And in science, what we do is we take a series of observations. We try to think which theory explains the most data with the fewest difficulties. And I think this is the way to approach scripture. So what I do is when I'm reading a question is I want to... First of all, I want to read the Bible from the [inaudible] always scripture, but I want to read in a community of different cultures, different times, different theologies, different theological predispositions. I want to read the scripture, but I want to do it in a diverse community.

And when I do that, then what happens is the uniqueness of a particular culture or theological tribe are ironed out by the fact that we're dealing with different people. For example, in John 4 is talking... I think it's really funny. In John 4, we're talking about the woman at the well, I thought for 35 years of advanced study, that woman was a terrible sinner. Divorced five times and now living with some guy. Goodnight, sinful woman. A friend of mine from Central America said, "Gary, you're an idiot." I said, "Again?" He said, "Yeah, again." "What do you mean?" He said, "Gary, you lived in the Philippines for three years. Who divorces?" "Oh," I said, "Men do." They throw out their wives and get a cut or younger thing? Or maybe they keep the wife and get a [inaudible].

He said, "What happened to biblical times? Who divorces?" "Oh," I said, "Men do." "Is she a sinner?" "Huh?" I said, "No, she'd be a kicked-out woman?" "Yeah." "How come she's living with a guy?" "Well, because in that context, you can't live independently as a woman." "Yeah." "It's like some of the conservative Muslim cultures today." "Why is she living with a guy and not married to him?" And "Oh, my..."

And a whole paradigm came crashing down as the only way to read this. She's an abuse survivor. Why is she with the sky? It's the best job she can get is basically being a sex slave to the sky and hope she won't get thrown out again. Very different framework. It never occurred to me, even though I had history in the Philippines until my friend from Central America who lived there as a missionary for a long time said, "Gary, think." "Well, I've been thinking." See, that's why you read in a context of different socioeconomic groups, different theological tribes, different cultural backgrounds, because it irons out the cultural things you bring to it.

So here's what I want to do. When you do this, I want you to consciously look for various proposed answers. Go to different theological tribes, different denominational backgrounds, different cultural strains, and ask, go firsthand. Go to these people and find out what are the issues, and the possibilities for understanding the passage or understanding the theological concept. Go to different people, different time periods, different cultures, different theological tribes, and say, "When you approach this passage, say, John 4, 1 Corinthians 12 about the baptism Holy Spirit. Don't look for answers. Look for issues and possibilities. Go for understanding and don't bring in my critical stuff." That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

No, I do good at that. But that's what sin at this point, I'm trying to understand why do you believe? How do you see different positions on scripture and where you go from there? What passage do you appeal to? How do you interpret them? As you read this Bible in diverse community, look for possibilities. Then ask that scientific question, which answer accounts for the most scriptural data with the fewest difficulties. I think that's the best way to do things. And so what I'm doing is I'm going to different people, but not to find an answer, but to find possibilities, to break down preunderstandings and give me things I'm not smart enough to think about. And that methodology I think is really helpful. You say, "Gary, you showed me a Bible and other stuff. Where's it on this one?" Okay, good question. Let's go to Acts 17:11.

Here in Acts 17:11. "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Now, my inducted Bible study friends say, "Where it is?" They're examining the scriptures themselves. "Yes, but what did he do before that?" They bring their own understanding from the Jewish synagogue. They listen to Paul carefully, so they've got at least two possible answers. And then they examine the scripture to see which view accounts for the most scriptural data with the fewest difficulties. This is actually retroductive, not inductive, because we're looking at different views.

One more example, Acts 15. This is a famous thing with circumcision. Acts 15, "Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch." Acts 15. Now turn there that you were supposed to do that. Certain people came down from Judea or teaching. Unless you're circumcised, according to custom by Moses, you can't be saved. Now, I'm looking here, not at the answer they did, but how they got there? They get in a big debate, they go to Jerusalem, they see the apostles and the elders, the church sends them there. And when they come there, what do they do? Look at verse five.

Acts 17:5. "Some of the believers who belong to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses." Now know what's happening, who's speaking? It's the party of Pharisees speaking for themselves. They're saying, "I believe they're not saying you jerk." And in a good context, people are saying, "This is what I believe." And other people are listening to understand that. So they met together to consider the question after much discussional, but there was, Peter got up and what does Peter do? He says, "I believe." Again, he does not critique the Pharisees. Nobody gives a report on what Peter believes. He speaks for himself, and he gives his belief and his evidence.

And when he's finished done in verse 12, the whole assembly became silent. They listened to Barnabas and Paul to with signs and wondered done the Gentiles through them. So now Barnabas and Paul speak firsthand, "I believe." Then James speaks up, "Brothers, listen to me." And beginning verse 14, he gives a profound expositional testament new covenant passages and this is how things are done. See the church and listening. They listen to different people firsthand for understanding, and they ask, "Which view accounts for the most biblical data with fewest difficulties?" I think that's the way to do theology. And you say, "Man, that'd take forever."

It does take longer. It's easier to ask John. I don't think it's easier to ask the Bible if you really do it right, but that's a limitation without a doubt. The strength of this, and it's a significant advantage. It is based on the spirit-led wisdom of the community. And here in Acts 17 in the letter, it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is involved in this discussion. The limitation does take a lot of time and it can be confusing, but if you put the work into it, you'll come to a better answer with better understandings.

But here's the thing, other people connect those dots in different ways and come to different understandings. And I think we have to recognize that in these disputed questions, people will come to different understandings. And so what I want to do when I do this, first of all, I want to come and really understand what the other person is saying. That is so very important. I must understand what that other person is saying before I start the critique work. So I have to really do that. And then doing it in a community of different cultures perspectives with Bible open and always say, "What does the Bible say?"

And then when I'm done with this, I'm going to really affirm evangelical unity. What do we all agree on? Start from that. What do we all agree on? We get so involved in the debates; we forget how much we agree on. So look at what you agree on, make notes of that. And then what are the different views on each one? And that's a really important thing. Okay, let's take a break here, but let this settle just a bit. Take a look at your notes and we'll come back in just a minute. And I want to take one more shot at taking this down a more level. Oh, questions?

Yeah, I-


I had a practical question. Most of us don't live in communities with that much diversity.

Repent, brother.

I'm thinking it's just the reality of most people in the church Baptist tend to go to Baptist church-

There's the problem.

... churches tend to go Luther Churches. At a practical level, how do you go find these different cultures and different Opinions?

Well, if you live in a city larger than Wheatland, Missouri, where I grew up, but even in Wheatland, Missouri, we had a symbol of God and brethren. I grew up in the brethren crowd. Go down the street and ask them. Seriously. Wheatland, Missouri, when I lived there, had a population of 199, lived in the city and there were like five different churches in the city and a bunch more outside. Just go ask them. Say, "Hey, my name is Gary and I've got this question. Could I come and talk to you about what you believe about the baptism, the Holy Spirit, or what I do about the sin of my life?" And do it respectfully. It's not that hard to find other people. We just don't do it. So I think that's the answer to that one. It's really not that hard.

And if you're from a larger place, I'm here in Quad City, Quad County, Portland Metro. Actually, I'm over in Vancouver right now, and they don't like to be called Portland, so I'll call it Vancouver on this side. But there are lots of people around. You just have to go ask them. It's not that hard. And then you've got books, you've got websites, you've got Wikipedia, which actually is a pretty good source. You can get other things firsthand. It's not that hard, but it does take some work. Go down the street and ask the church, the Lutheran church you've never been in. Now, be careful. You may give the pastor a heart attack if you're a Baptist, asking Luther to help me understand Bible better. Other questions?

When we're having discussions, there's value in having a scriptural understanding of what you think and your point of view. And then also being able to listen and evaluate what somebody else is saying. And focus on the information they're giving without getting emotional and taking it personally. So, because a lot of the issues that get discussed theologically can be held, the different views can be held within an evangelical framework. So it's important to learn from somebody and just go through the process of having those discussions in a way where you're really focusing on the issues and trying to help each other understand who God is better and what the scripture teaches.

Right. Well said. And what I'm trying to do is focus on what I believe when I'm talking, when I'm listening to somebody else talk, I focus on what they believe, and I can become defensive or critical really easily. I have to pray Holy Spirit, help me not become defensive or critical. I want to understand my brother or sister in Christ. That's where I want to begin.

My sister has invested a lot of time in this, really has a good understanding. I may not agree, but I'm going to focus on things I do agree on, and let's talk about things we disagree, and understand each other well. And yeah, one of my favorite phrases, they're really good and godly people who disagree with me on this, and it's true. It means somebody's ungodly because they disagree on same baptism and the Holy Spirit, but let's focus on what we agree on. Then we can affirm evangelical unity from that.


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