It’s happened to me lots of times. I’m in a room with some passionate Christians. Issues of faith inevitably come up, and spiritual opinions and insights are rampant. The conversation remains agreeable for about 2 to 4 minutes. Just enough time for the first person to hear something that they only agree with about 97% of. They’re tempted to let it slide, but that 3% that they disagree with is just kind of lingering in their minds, festering like a slice of pizza you hid in the ceiling tiles of your dorm the beginning of your freshman year. So they utter the following phrase:
Yeah, but. It’s really an odd phrase when you think about it. “Yeah” – meaning “yes,” “you’re correct,” “I agree,” “I concur,” “I affirm the validity of what you just said.” And then there’s the “but,” which means something different: “however,” “except,” “not so fast,” “well actually,” “I disagree,” or maybe just plain “you’re wrong.”
So which is it? “Yeah” or “but?” Agree or disagree? Are we tracking or not?
We have more “yeah buts” than we know what to do with. Sometimes it’s almost like we want to disagree with each other. It’s as if we get another 5 yards added to our drive for every meaningful “yeah but” we can produce. And so we look for ways to critique, disagree, define, re-define, and contest everything we can.
And before you know it, we’ve got people labeling themselves and each other with all sorts of crazy words; words which differentiate and define and categorize themselves and others.
“I don’t like so-and-so’s writing. He’s one of those incarmissional emergenistic neo-orthodox liberganic fundagelical types.”
Now it’s time for a disclaimer. I love theology, I’m a big fan of pure doctrine, and I even think it’s important enough to debate over. For instance, I believe that the question of whether or not Jesus is of “like substance” or the “same substance” as God really matters.
So what I’m ultimately saying is this. The purity of the faith is important. However, in the midst of all our “yeah buts,” we should remember something equally as important. As I listened to a podcast by Steve Deneff the other day, it was impressed upon me that “Christianity’s problem with the world is not one of doctrine, but of ethics.” In other words, Deneff explains, it isn’t that we don’t believe in the Trinity. It’s that our marriages don’t reflect Trinitarian love. And it’s not that we don’t believe that God became a human being – rather, it’s that we don’t embody Christ on this earth today.
I would add that the problem isn’t so much that we don’t believe in salvation by grace through faith. Rather, it’s that we don’t live lives that exhibit faith in the God whose grace supposedly gives us that salvation. I could probably go on.
Yeah, but that’s for another post.