May 25, 2007

opinion: a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. (Dictionary.com)

I have a lot of opinions. I like my opinions a lot. I instinctively want to defend my opinions, and to persuade others to my point of view. I don’t like changing my opinions, and so I don’t do that very often (maybe not often enough). I will readily admit that I am probably wrong about some of my opinions. But when you pin me down on a particular opinion, I generally won’t think that opinion is one of the ones I am wrong about. After all, if I thought it was wrong, I wouldn’t hold that opinion. I am so sure of some of my opinions that I consider them to be facts.

I instinctively like people who share my opinions. The more of my opinions a person shares, the more I tend to like that person. I find it harder to be close to someone who does not share my opinions, especially on important subjects.

The church is fertile ground for forming opinions. Many of our interpretations of scripture rest on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. These are the topics that Paul calls “disputable matters” in Romans 14:1. Perhaps these ideas are reasonable inferences from scripture, but there is enough ambiguity to leave the conclusion uncertain. We have a tough time admitting that our position is merely opinion, and not the indisputable doctrine of Christ. We need to be reminded that we are fallible.

Differing opinions in the church have led to division after division, precisely because people did not follow Paul’s instructions in Romans 14. People have not been willing to give unity with their brother priority over their opinions. People have clung to their perceived rights, to the detriment of their brothers and sisters who hold a different opinion. People have promoted their opinions, lobbying people to one side or another of some controversial issue. As a result, things that need not divide brothers have ended up dividing them.

There are times when we need to keep our opinions to ourselves (Rom 14:22) Sometimes I allow myself to be drawn into online discussions that turn into quarrels. Quarrels are not constructive, especially in public. Arguing about a controversial subject in public can be like shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. It feeds the unspiritual side of our nature. It tends to divide rather than to unite. These are the very times when we need to keep our opinions to ourselves.

The Restoration Movement needs to learn this lesson. We need to be full of grace and humbly to recognize that we may be wrong about a thing or two. We must live by our understanding of scripture, but we must recognize that our brothers who disagree with us must also live by their own consciences. It is before God that they stand or fall, and God is able to make them stand.

I have lived long enough to learn that I will never persuade everyone to my opinion on any subject, let alone all subjects. I have decided that my energies would be better spent bringing people together rather than promoting my opinions. May God help me to be a peacemaker rather than a debater.

We do not ask them to give up their opinions–we ask them only not to impose them upon others. Let them hold their opinions, but let them hold them as private property. The faith is public property; opinions are, and always have been private property. — Alexander Campbell


  1. ” I am so sure of some of my opinions that I consider them to be facts.”That reminded me of a boss once who’s husband said of her that she was “frequently wrong, but never in doubt”.

  2. Alan; I loved your post until the very last when you said. “God help me to be a peacemaker rather than a debater.” as you said it is unusual to change a person’s opinion, but when we see (not through opinion but through fact and logic, logic through context) we should try to convince with every tool we have(the bible) not to come around to our opinion but factual evidence written in the bible in context to surrounding things. If you allow yourself to become a peacemaker by agreeing or ignoring an ignorant opinion, you have become a solder of Christ with no weapon. I agree you can never defeat an opinion with an opnion. but a reasonable person should admit to fact.

  3. Hi Laymond,One of my favorite passages on this is 2Ti 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.2Ti 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,2Ti 2:26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.We should not quarrel, but that does not mean we should not gently instruct. 2 Cor 4:2 speaks of setting forth the truth plainly. I’m all for that, but not the back and forth quarreling. And especially not public quarreling over what we think we see between the lines of scripture.

  4. Alan; I think it was Jack Reese who said in, “The Body Broken”; (paraphrased) “Over the years I have less convictions.” With time I have seen many of my “convictions” move to the opinion column. There are really only two convictions I have, and one is actually in the form of a question. 1. Who is God? (Is my theology and those who profess to be Christians consistent with the God of the bible?)2. Salvation Doctrine -Faith, Repentance, Baptism (integral with salvation), continued obedience, the lordship of Jesus. Much of everything else is opinion or discussion about form and not substance. And that’s MY opinion! (ha, ha)Phil

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