An article in the July/August issue of Modern Reformation grabbed me:
While in the past, humility was the opposite of pride, in modernity it has become the opposite of conviction…Today, being sure of something is considered a character flaw…
Fundamentalism had more “certainties” than can be justified from Scripture, as if we possessed the knowledge of settlers in the City of God rather than pilgrims toward it. However, the danger is to overreact with equally arrogant assertions of uncertainty when God has clearly spoken…Do we have the humility to doubt ourselves while having the courage to witness to the truth as it has been revealed?
Statements like these are why I like Michael Horton so much. I think he strikes just the right note here. Yes, be less certain than some before us have been in certain areas, but don’t confuse humility with uncertainty. You can be humble and at the same time believe something.
I think this is a good word for the emerging church, which is sometimes accused (rightly or wrongly) of being so humble that they believe nothing. Of course, this may be because they value praxis so much, and because questioning is not the same thing as doubting (a subject for a different post). But conviction and praxis can go together.
But let me challenge the non-emerging types for a minute.
If the opposite of humility is not uncertainty, it must mean that we can be certain and humble at the same time. I guess humility would show itself in the way we treat others and view ourselves.
I get frustrated with discussions like the imonk one because some people, frankly, are just rude. When challenged, they sometimes imply that if they acted with more grace, they would be compromising the truth.
Why not embrace solid conviction with a graciousness and gentleness with others? Why do truth and obnoxiousness have to go together?
My systematic theology professor, someone who is still a mentor, personifies this. I don’t think anybody would call him wishy-washy, but he is always careful to present those with opposing views in the best possible light. He is always gracious, yet forthright, when disagreeing with them. Another example of someone who does this is Tim Challies. May their tribe increase.
May emerging types be certain when they should be, and may non-emerging types be gracious even when they are sure they are right.