I feel at times Christians can get like this at dangerous times. It is easy when you are backed up against the wall in answering something about your faith to throw out a snide comment out of ignorance, rather than simply admitting on of the most painful sentences in the English language "I don't know".
My personal problem with "I don't know" is pride. I have always been looked to by others for questions about things whether it be school work, faith, or random geography and history tidbits (no joke, I do love history and geography). Naturally this has made me feel like I should have an answer to everything, even if I have never studied it.
This has gotten me personally into trouble in unnecessary debates. For a bit I took too much of my life getting into twitter and Facebook debates. In these I was sometimes caught without a good answer. Rather than having the guts to admit I didn't know I thought I could give poor, vague answers that would get people off my back.
This was bad. And has caused me to stumble. It has made me feel like the "fool" that is talked about so frequently in Proverbs. Rather than trust God, I felt it was necessary I argued to maintain the viability of my salvation. That doesn't even make sense if you think about it! I didn't save myself so how am I supposed to keep myself safe?
I think we should take some steps in both humility in our lives, but also in seeking understanding. Here are my thougthts
- In James 1 it says "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." First of all we should ask God for wisdom in what his text says. Just because you have zeal for the Lord doesn't mean you have understanding. Use that zeal to ask God to reveal what his scripture means, not just what it says
- Ask experts things. I have a friend who is extremely astute in all things business. Anytime I hear about something business related I tend to ask him what his thoughts are on it. You should do the same thing with scripture. Pastors aren't just paid to preach and do funerals. They also want to teach people!
- Don't assume what you believe. This can be dangerous because many people have defaults that they refer to. For many these defaults can include doctrines such as Dispensational Premillenialism, Calvinism, Arminianism, or Young Earth Creationist. Just because you heard it your whole life doesn't mean you should follow it. Pastors and teachers, while well trained and versed in scripture, can be wrong.
- Be willing to admit when you are wrong. I've had these times. For much of my youth I was strongly against any form of Calvinism. What I had heard turned out to be mostly straw men arguments. After hearing it from people who clearly articulated the ideas behind that theological system I was more drawn to it and saw validity in it. It was tough for me to admit they got anything right. Now much, but not all, of my theology is built around a reformed Calvinist view.
- Be willing to say I don't know. If someone asks you what your views on soteriology or theodicy are, and you aren't even sure what those words mean, it may be wise not to throw in your two cents. Be willing to sit and listen then seek out answers. You can damage your credibility, and that of other Christians, by speaking out of ignorance. It says in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should be ready to answer anyone about our faith. It also says we should be prepared. Going in unprepared is like going to a knife fight with a water gun.