I haven’t changed my mind. . .
The ellipsis points in the above statement indicate that there is more to come.
In fact, I have changed my mind many times. I have written things I wish could be unwritten. I have said things I wish could be unsaid. I have believed things I shouldn’t have believed. I have had (and won) some arguments I wish I hadn’t had (or won). I have taken positions on issues that now make me look foolish, even to myself. I have thought I understood things I really didn’t understand. I have been convinced of things that are not as clear to me as I once thought. I have been dogmatic when I should have been more open and questioning.
It seems the older I get the less I know. I have been saying lately that I used to understand the Bible better than I understand it now. I’ve even considered writing an article titled “A Few Things I Have Learned Since I Thought I Knew It All.” And that is not false humility.
So yes, I have actually changed my mind many times in my life.
The Apostles Were Certain about Their Beliefs
But I haven’t changed my mind about some things—many things in fact. I will give you in this article only a short list of my unchangeable and nonnegotiable core beliefs—beliefs I hold as dearly today as I ever did.
Luke’s opening statement of the Gospel that bears his name includes these words: “. . . those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1). I do not need a dictionary, concordance, another Bible translation, a paraphrase of the Bible, or a theology degree to understand those words. I know what “most” means. I know what “surely” means. And I know what “believed” means. Luke was saying the apostles and other followers of Jesus were absolutely and unequivocally certain about what they believed.
Plan of Salvation
I have a questioning mind, but being a critical thinker does not cause me to question the necessity of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus, and speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the Holy Ghost—the plan of salvation. Those are some of the “things which are most surely believed” by me. That means I don’t need to go back and edit those core tenets of my faith.
No, I haven’t changed my mind . . . about the new birth. I have a made-up mind about “follow[ing] peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). I understand that “true holiness” includes, among other things, “putting away lying” (Ephesians 4: 24–25) and “cleans[ing] ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).I have a questioning mind, but being a critical thinker does not cause me to question the necessity of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus, and speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the Holy Ghost. Click To Tweet
No, I haven’t changed my mind . . . about “true holiness.” After all these years, I still “most surely” believe and accept at face value the words of Jesus who said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). Mind you, these are not the words of a soft, teary-eyed, liberal theologian. And because it was none other than Jesus Himself who spoke those words, I don’t have to think about whether I believe them. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that some things outweigh other things in God’s economy.
No, I haven’t changed my mind . . . about the weightiness of judgment, mercy, and faith.
After being a minister of the gospel who has preached the Acts 2:38 message for fifty-five years, I still believe “by grace are [we] saved through faith; and that not of [ourselves]: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). My mind is not muddled about salvation by faith that invariably issues in obedience to the Word of God. It is still easy for me to understand that faith does not cancel obedience. I know for sure that obedience is an active response of faith.
So no, I haven’t changed my mind . . . about the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.
In my years on this earth I have seen fads come and go. I have watched as people I admired and respected—some who helped form my belief system—radically changed their basic beliefs. I have watched with dismay as some walked away from truths they once embraced and defended.
And so in light of all that, I say with gratitude and humility that I haven’t changed my mind . . .
(A version of this content originally appeared in Pentecostal Life.)
Resources and Links