But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:14-17, NIV)I memorized that passage (vv. 16-17) as a boy (probably in AWANA), but this morning my attention was drawn by the passage that comes immediately after.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Tim 4:1-5, NIV)Now your average creationist reads that as a condemnation of evolution, right? That's the myth what "itching ears want to hear," or so we've been told.
But I'm not your average creationist, so I wondered what myth I've turned to instead of "sound doctrine." I think the danger is ever present, or Paul wouldn't have warned Timothy so sternly to avoid it. That means the warning is for everyone, especially for those who think they've got it all together doctrinally (like us creationists).
So here's a real dangerous question: Could our little doctrinal hobby horses that we all have be some of those "myths?" Surely doctrinal points are important, right? God wants us to have sound doctrine, right? Getting stuck on one particular issue isn't wrong?
I see in this passage a delicate balance. Paul clearly encourages us to "correct, rebuke, and encourage," for which the God-breathed scriptures are particular good. But then he warns us not to get carried away with our "own desires," with teachers who tell us what we want to hear. See the balance?
Perhaps what we all need to do is to pray that God will create in us a desire to hear sound doctrine, so that we gather around ourselves teachers who not only tell us what we want to hear but also tell us the truth.
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.