1 Oct 2008

Perceiving What Has Always Been

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Discipleship, Hermeneutics, Ministry, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Spiritual Disciplines

Perceiving What Has Always Been …

Many today are bantering around the slogan “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.

Apart from being simplistic, and even bordering on deception, this sloganeering completely misses the point. We believe whatever “it” is that God has said. I, for one, will go on record as believing anything that comes from the mouth of God. We also believe that whatever God has said “settles” it.

The real issue is not that God has spoken, or our believing, but our perception and understanding.

People for millennia thought God said the Earth stood still and the Sun orbited it. The problem was not what God had said . . . for indeed what he said did settle “it.” But we simply did not discern the “it.” That is until a man by the name of Copernicus came along in the 15th century and then another named of Galileo in the 17th century. Then for the first time we understood the “it.” But God said “it” long before we understood “it.”

I like the attitude of Thomas Fuller, a 17th century English churchman and scholar. Fuller wrote a short prayer that reveals something that is especially profound and reveals an attitude of being a perpetual learner. Let me share it with you. Fuller confessed,

LORD, this morning I read a chapter in the Bible, and therein observed a memorable passage whereof I never took notice before. Why now, and no sooner, did I see it? Formerly my eyes were as open, and the letters as legible. Is there not a thin veil laid over Thy Word, which is more rarified by reading, and at last wholly worn away? I see the oil of Thy Word will never leave increasing whilst any bring an empty barrel.”

Is this not perceptive? I believe there is profound wisdom here. Just when we assume we have “it” all figured out a Galileo, a Einstein, or an Alexander Campbell comes along and subverts the entire paradigm! The truth is not new. What is new is what Fuller testifies too. We are seeing something that has always been there but we just did not see “it.”

It is very sad when we find some who use that old saw “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” as an out from having to think and study. Indeed it is quite possible that this mantra can even become a sign of rebellion. Is it not interesting that those whose eyes “took notice” of what had always been but never seen are almost always persecuted? Think of the names: John Huss, John Wycliff, Martin Luther, Argula von Grumbach, William Tyndale, Galileo Galilei, Roger Williams, Thomas Campbell, Martin Luther King Jr . . .

The prayer of Thomas Fuller can only be prayed by one who comes to the text as if it is new every morning, as if it is fresh, as if we know nothing . . . as if we expect to find something new and wonderful. As if it is actually the the living Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword.  The prayer simply cannot be said while seeking to argue or defend what we think we know. The prayer is said by one who expects God to rock his/her boat and rattle his/her cage.

Is this not what we want? Do we not want to be explorers in the fathomless ocean of God’s wisdom and truth? Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about?

8 Responses to “Perceiving What Has Always Been”

  1. kingdomseeking Says:

    The congregation that I serve in actually has someone who still believes the sun is revolving around the earth. He also thinks that all the scientific evidence to the contrary is a big conspiracy by liberals to rid us of belief in God.


    In my experience, those who have used the mantra “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” do so very inconsistently. They use this mantra in an attempt to defend their very black and white views regarding salvation, biblical inspiration, or some other subject that they believe to have all figured out. However, remind them that Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” or “go sell all your riches and give them to the poor”… well, suddenly the idea that ‘God said it, I believe it, and that settles it’ becomes an unwelcomed mantra.

    Grace and peace,


  2. cwinwc Says:

    “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”
    How much harm has been done by folks, well meaning and not who have espoused that saying. What they really mean (including me) is that God said it, this is my interpretation of what he said, and don’t try to tell me that I might be wrong.

    The ultimate failure of this mind set is that we’ve tied our salvation into some kind of “perfect understanding of doctrine” rather than trusting in the blood of Jesus.

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi Bobby,
    I have heard that phrase for years and I believe it was my Mom who told me that it was flawed.
    “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”
    Whether I believe it or not…God still said it and that settles it so I had better believe it is how my Mom rephrased it (not in a threatening way, but in an explanatory way.). This puts a twist on it and gives it more meaning I think because there are so many who do NOT believe what God has said.
    Love in Him,
    Motorcycle Grandma Linda

  4. preacherman Says:

    I think this mentality is scarey. I mean you have God giving the law to the Isrealites where he God says, “Stone your rebelleous children.” Then within the same law says, “Thou shall not kill.” God said it…that settles it? Thank you Bobby for dealing with subject. I think we need to take the Bible serious. It in needs to be our guide for the Christian life. Yet if the Bible doesn’t mention issues then we need to use our own minds up. We need to enjoy the freedom that God has given us. I think it is easy for those who quote these phrases all the time to make human traditions and opinions as if “God said it!”

  5. Cheryl Russell Says:

    That quote is very smug. It’s also funny because I don’t see most Christians living out what they believe God said. If that settles it, why the heck aren’t we living it?! I’m still waiting to meet the human manifestation of the Sermon on the Mount!! Actually, I’m still waiting to live out that sermon!

    I’ve been feeling convicted of this right now. I love learning and always will, but I also need to start living up to what I’ve already attained. Philippians 3:16

    Great thoughts as usual Bobby! BTW, when are you coming this way? We are moving to Portland in December.

  6. Joshua L. Pappas Says:

    This is a good post, Bobby. In my experience the folks that use the mantra under consideration are usually good people that sincerely believe their understandings of things to be correct. However, there aren’t as many Bereans out there as I’d like there to be. Even worse, there are some who think of themselves as Bereans, but are really just traditionalists. I can’t complain much, though, so far I’ve been blessed to be surrounded and supported by open-minded brethren that have been willing to learn and grow (and put up with me as I’ve gone through some messy stages of growth).

    I hope you’re well.

  7. pilgrimdan Says:


    Thanks for this post…

    Amy has that saying on her facebook account…

    I sent her a note on her facebook with your thoughts on this…

    – Dan

  8. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Dan thanks for the kind words. Glad you were blessed.

    Bobby Valentine

Leave a Reply