We are continuing our series on platitudes that are frequently uttered intended to deflate our enthusiasm to study biblical prophecy, shutting down discussion of God’s Word about our Lord’s coming.
“Theologians have been debating this for centuries”
Not true. It has actually been the last two centuries, especially this last century, that this has been a consistent debate among theologians.
And so what, if it were the case that theologians have been debating this for two millennia? Theologians have been debating, for example, the doctrine of the nature of Christ for centuries. Does that mean that we cannot know what Scripture teaches on the nature of Christ?
And why is it a bad thing that theologians debate doctrine? I thought this was a good thing. “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).
Truth is often discovered through disagreement and debate—not suppression of it.
There is also an implicit elitist attitude in this platitude: “If theologians cannot agree on this doctrine, then the commoner should not be arrogant to think he or she can contribute anything of value.” Truth can only be disseminated from the interpreter-priests, so we are told.
Individuals who utter this platitude are typically those who cannot think for themselves. They treat Bible commentaries and systematic theology books as infallible golden plates that fall from heaven; i.e. if a theologian says that we “cannot be sure” then that settles it, and who are you to think that you know better?
What does Jesus say about this platitude? In his Olivet Discourse he was adamant for the believer to understand the conditions (historical and moral) of his return. He taught us the season of his return, discernible events such as the Antichrist’s great tribulation that will happen before his return. He grounded his warnings not to capitulate in these historical conditions: slothfulness, persecution, and false teaching.
Just because theologians have had different interpretations on Jesus’ teaching does not mean that all theologians must be wrong, or that we cannot discern the truth. Your very soul, Jesus teaches, may depend on it.
Take away: In short, this platitude is really a dumb statement. It is historically myopic, logically flawed, and Scripturally naive. Don’t fall prey to surface-level utterances that are pious on the outside and hollow in the inside.