Monday, March 31, 2008

Disputable Matters

A re-read of Romans 14 brought this phrase out in my mind: "disputable matters." Paul starts the chapter saying, Accept him whose faith if weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters." I've read through this passage many times, understanding that it's point is the relationship between the mature and immature. As mature believers, we should guard our actions so that we do not put a stumbling block in the path of the immature believer. This is in keeping with Paul's statement that "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." We are free to do what we want, but must always strive to measure the impact of our actions on others. You all know this (but if you are like me, you wrestle with it greatly). But I've never really thought about the things he goes on to list as "disputable matters."

One dictionary defines "disputable" this way: "open to argument or debate," and "matters" in this manner: "a vaguely specified concern." So, "disputable matters" leads me to believe Paul is now going to talk about "vaguely specific concerns that are open to argument or debate."

Paul (as Jewish as one man could be!) addresses two items as disputable matters: dietary laws and the Sabbath! Devout Jews observe these two matters more than any others. Yet Paul minimalizes them as disputable matters. This passage drove me to the place of asking, "What are some other disputable matters?" What do you think?

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