How should I act? vs What should I believe?

In my recent readings of the Bible I keep butting up against these two questions:

  1. How should I act?
  2. What should I believe?

If I ask the first question, almost every passage has some advice (sometimes conflicting, but that’s wisdom for you). If I ask the second question, I sometimes get something, and most of the time I get nothing.

This isn’t new, either. The Old Testament is full of commands about how to live and not much about what to believe.

I’m not saying there isn’t anything that the Bible says I need to believe. There is much of that. I’m not drifting into some sort of formless post-Christian heresy here.

If I go to scripture and ask, How do I love God? There’s an answer for that. How do I love his people? Answer for that. How do I live in a world full of corruption and evil? Answered.

If I go to scripture and ask, Should I be into infant baptism? No answer. Should I believe in a rapture? No answer. What interpretive framework should I use to accurately interpret Revelation? No answer. All these points of data that we would love to have… no answer. Why is that?

I think what I’m saying is that the Bible’s theological framework is very sparse compared to ours. Where we tend to build theological walls, the Bible only really gives us a theological framework centred on Jesus.

He fulfils the Old and brings in the New. This is true for testaments and people.

* * *

As a postscript (I added this after publishing the initial post), yes, I am worried that I’m making a distinction without a difference here. The problem I’ve always had with orthodoxy and orthopraxy is I’ve always been told and assumed that they are different sides of the same coin. But when I looked at it again later I had to ask… how? How does being a paedobaptist or a preterist or any of those other Ps really affect your life? I mean, at that doctrinal granularity, it there really a difference one way or the other?

I mean, I know some people (obviously people who have a stake in the Tiny Doctrine game) will try to say these things do make a difference, and maybe on some indefinite macro level they do, but I’ve never seen it. On the ground, at congregational level, Reformed and Presbyterian and Baptist and Pentacostal and Anglican and Catholic are pretty similar. There are the faithful, there are the faithless; there are givers and receivers; there are blessers, there are cursers; there are consumers, there are producers.

So maybe, just maybe, if these doctrinal things don’t make that much of a difference… maybe they’re not so important after all? This isn’t science. Maybe it’s just not important that we define all the things.

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