Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Finding The Center of Biblical Tension

Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, former President of Columbia International University (my alma mater by the way), for many years taught hermeneutics to the undergrads at Columbia Bible College.  Dr. McQuilkin was noted as stressing over and over again to his hermeneutic students to seek to find the center of biblical tension.  He noted that much of the battles over biblical interpretation comes when people fail to find the center.  While its true that its not always easy to find the center of biblical tension, we should seek to do so as often as possible.  He would stress that on any issue whether it was over the gifts of the Spirit to the issues involving the Arminian/Calvinist debate. 

How we need more godly men like Dr. McQuilkin who would promote such theology.  Far too often we tend to go out of balance when it comes to theological issues.  We fail to find the center of biblical tension.  I remember years ago having a Bible study with a young man who was so convinced in the necessity of water baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) that that became his focus.  He would argue till he was blue in the face that unless a person was baptized by immersion in his church, they were lost.  I tried to reason with him to find the center of biblical tension pointing out that while I agreed with him in the importance of baptism, its far more important for us to stress that Jesus Christ is the Savior than to stress obeying Him in baptism.  If we point people to Jesus, I argued, then they will want to be baptized because Jesus commanded it (Matthew 28:19-20).  Yet all he could see was baptism, baptism, and more baptisms.  He was not finding the center of biblical tension. 

Hyper-Calvinists can do this as well or even semi-Pelagians.  The hyper-Calvinist sees nothing but the sovereignty of God in Scripture without seeing personal responsibility to the gospel.  The semi-Pelagian sees nothing but the freedom of the will with disregard for the depravity of humanity and that salvation is a work of God’s Spirit and not of works of the flesh whatsoever.  Both the hyper-Calvinist and the semi-Pelagian fails to find the center of biblical tension.

Those who reject the Trinity often do so because they fail to find the center of biblical tension.  On the one hand we have those who are “Jesus Only” and they see no one but Jesus in the Godhead (Colossians 2:9 KJV).  On the other hand we have people who see three Gods in the Scripture (and sometimes more than that).  They both fail to find the center of biblical tension.

I could go on and on but you get my point.  In terms of application we often fail to find the center of biblical tension.  I have seen people who are all about worship (by that I mean singing songs to the Lord) and prayer yet they have little time to study the Bible.  On the other hand I have known people who were full of knowledge from the Word but no passion to worship Jesus nor seek Him in prayer.  We need both.  We need to study the Word of God (Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:1-3) and we need to pray and seek the face of Christ (1 John 5:14-15). 

So my point is simple: seek to find the center of biblical tension on all issues.  I highly recommend two of Dr. McQuilkin’s books to help.  The first is the book that we used from his hermeneutics classes.  The second is on Christian ethics.  Both will help you go deeper in your Bible study and will help you to seek to find the center of biblical tension on all issues. 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/11/2010 at 5:36 AM

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