Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Inclination of the Heart

"A wise man's heart inclines him to the right, but a fool's heart to the left. " Ecclesiastes 10:2

I've been wrestling over the past week or so with issues of conscience and how we should handle those with our children. As there are far more issues of conscience than rules in the New Testament, I realize the need to seriously grapple with those both as an individual Christian and as a parent. And, while my amazing Redeemer is wonderfully knowable, He is also wonderfully complex.

So, before I reveal the third principle that must guide my decisions on issues of conscience, I want to unpack Ecclesiastes 10:2. There are too many battles of ideas to list here, but the underpinning of our inclinations is, as the Scripture states, a battle between right and left. And that battle is much older than elephants and donkeys.

Right: conservatism.
No matter the ideology, conservatism is the tendency to approach change slowly and skeptically. It views ancient things as good and new things as bad.
Left: liberalism.
Again, no matter the ideology, liberalism is the tendency to approach change quickly and wholeheartedly. It views ancient things as bad and new things as good. This is why liberals, while often eschewing the "L" word, embrace the label "progressive."

Therefore, what Solomon was saying was that the wise man values ancient wisdom, and the foolish man disdains ancient wisdom. Unfortunately, to disdain ancient wisdom is to disdain the author of all wisdom Himself. For it is no coincidence that Daniel, in chapter 7 of his book, refers to God as the Ancient of Days.

The Ancient of Days who sits on the throne of heaven and is served by a thousand thousands...
The Ancient of Days who will delegate all dominion to the Son of Man...
The Ancient of Days who will preside in judgment at the end of all things...

Allow me, then, to connect some dots. Solomon is exhorting us to train our hearts to seek wisdom from the Ancient of Days. And that wisdom is found in His Word. That brings us back to what the Reformers called sola scriptura. It is a stern warning from the Old Testament that directly links to John's stern warning in the New Testament (Rev. 22:18-19) not to change the Word by adding to or taking away from it.

We need to train our children to beware of "change" both in politicians who stray from founding documents and from false teachers who stray from THE founding document, the Bible. New ideas and new teachings are not just possibly erroneous; they are probably erroneous. And as we navigate our children through issues of conscience, we must direct them with the wisdom of Solomon always back to the Ancient of Days.

But that does not mean that it is okay to "err on the side of caution..."
...which finally brings me to my third principle.

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