Inner Formation of the Heart
Part 14: Principle #10--Responsible for Central Beliefs
This final point may seem surprising following the other points that emphasize how passively central beliefs are formed. Yet in light of principle #7 we do have an important role in our formation. The transformation process is not one that God does alone, but one in wish he invites—even, requires--our partnership (note the various commands in the New Testament). Thus we are held accountable before God for our central beliefs. As adults we daily confirm our central beliefs by continuing to live in light of them. Since we always have the capacity to change our central beliefs indirectly, it behooves us to be diligently engaged in the truth-seeking process, encountering truth wherever it may be leading us. We wish to welcome more truth into our central beliefs, so we can embrace new central beliefs, affirm existing true central beliefs, and become aware of false central beliefs so they can be eventually corrected.
What may propel us onward toward becoming life-long learners? First, we may give more intention to central belief formation realizing that our lives held hostage by our current false, settled, central beliefs. Second, there are unknown truths that need to be discovered and embraced by us that are beyond our plausibility structures. If truth can make us more free (Jn 8:31-32) and if central beliefs always direct our lives (both true and false ones), then our lives will experience greater flourishing than we currently do as false central beliefs are transformed and as we embrace a greater set of true central beliefs than we currently hold. And allow these beliefs to become more deeply internalized.
A third motivation applies especially to all teachers and those who offer guidance to others (spiritual directors, pastors, counselors, ministry leaders, mentors, seminary professors, parents, etc). We teach classes and write books out of our current, limited storehouses of central beliefs and, in effect, we can short-change our charges if we do not continue to be persistent seekers of truth. Jesus’ harsh warning to the educational gate-keepers of his day have often grips me in application as a teacher: “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Lk 11:52, Mt 12:13). Although we could patiently wait for the trials of life to push us along on this aspect of our formation, we have the opportunity to be intentional in exploring new arenas to search for truth we have not yet embraced, recognizing that the learning process may be thoroughly uncomfortable and anxiety producing. For example, friend and colleague J. P. Moreland and I have been on a journey to learn about the Spirit’s power for living and ministry. See J. P. Moreland, The Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007) and Moreland and Issler, In Search of a Confident Faith.
Next Musing: Part 15—How We Unintentionally Reinforce the Gap To Remain