I heard an interesting one today, namely that the Gentiles who do not have the law in Romans 2:14 actually were Christians. Apparently said individual held to a very strong form of exclusivism, such that even a plain text read of Romans 2:12-16 had to be tweaked in order for the theological construct of exclusivism to not be infringed.
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
I’ve seen the similar things spin out amongst those who hold to forms of OSAS (once saved always saved) when they encounter a previously on fire hard core Christian who now no longer is. I think of atheist Bruce Gerencser, whose fruits of the spirit as a pastor were probably brighter than most every Christian I’ve met over the years… and because some hold to OSAS, their only recourse is to say Bruce was never a Christian in the first place. Granted, its impossible to truly judge anothers heart… but how an individual lives can serve as a pretty good indicator. Bottom line, I’m certain he was a Christian, and he will tell you with great certainty, he no longer is today… and I think some of the OSAS camp find that to be a really scary deal.
This is not to say that theological constructs are necessarily a bad thing. I think they can be helpful tools along the path of faith… but like many tools, they are not universal, and realistically, at some point in time they likely should be examined in depth. Perhaps to the point of deconstruction and reconstruction for some, perhaps especially so for those who wish to teach.
I think of the year I spent dissecting the Nicene Creed, to say nothing of digging deep into the filioque controversy. At the end, my beliefs did not change, but I had a greater appreciation for the Orthodox faith, and I also had an element of understanding as to why things were the way they were… and also why some would take issue with this or that.
Bottom line, faith and mystery are quite conjoined… when mystery is removed, and faith is bent to fill a need for certainty, sooner or later trouble is likely to be found.