Eat the meat, spit the bones.
What a wonderful phrase.
Eat the meat, spit the bones,
it ain’t no passing craze!
It means you wont find a perfect theologian, for the rest of your days.
It’s our problem free,
eat the meat, spit the bones.
This has become my motto as of late. Back when I began studying philosophy, theology, and apologetics, five or so years ago, I quickly realized there are a lot of brilliant men and they hardly ever agree with one another. There is nuance to every doctrine, every philosophy, every apologetical method, and even (especially) amongst guys in the “same camp”.
This was a problem for me! I was a young bull looking for a fresh set of china. How was I supposed to go crashing about when all these guys were pointing me in different directions? C.S. Lewis, the great “Romantic-Rationalist” is one of the most enjoyable authors to read, he is funny and winsome and brilliant. But he’s got some weird views on scripture and he assumes a libertarian free-will, rather uncritically. Then there’s John MacArthur, one of the best expositors… like ever. But he’s a dispy. Then I go to Bahnsen for apologetics and I’m absolutely blown away… until I hear his YouTube videos on theonomy… yikes. And on and on I went learning from Piper and Sproul, Frame and Nash, Calvin and Luther, Mohler and Vanhoozer, Keller and Plantinga, Van Til and Clark, Spurgeon and Edwards, you get the point. I read these godly men, who are way smarter than I am, and they all come to different conclusions, so what the heck was I to do?
That’s when the motto came floating in to relieve me of worry. Just eat the meat and spit the bones! “But, but, but.. CONSISTENCY!!!! It’s inconsistent! You must pick a system and adhere to it! Each system is a whole and thus is incompatible with the others, Park! Don’t you know that?” Right, but I am seeking consistency, I want my beliefs to be consistent with the Bible’s teaching. If I read John MacArthur’s commentaries and appreciate his exegeses but I don’t think the Bible supports dispensationalism, then I’ll go to Sam Storms for my eschatology. But if I don’t agree with Storms flopping around speaking in tongues then I’ll read Strange Fire for help. I love the Westminster and the 1689 confessions of faith, but I don’t dogmatically hold to every word of either because I think they disagree with Scripture at points, and that makes sense seeing as their authors were not carried on by the Holy Spirit to infallibly pen them.
I will eat the meat and spit the bones until Christ returns, because we are all fallible. Now you didn’t hear me say “No creed but Christ!” I know that expression itself is a creed, I’m just saying we could all get more sleep at night if we would practice this discipline with a charitable spirit and a willingness to learn from those who differ from us.
This brings me to New Covenant Theologians. Now, I don’t wanna toot the NCT horn too much here but I’ve been incredibly blessed by the humble spirit I’ve witnessed in these gents. I’ve only recently come to see myself as an NCT guy, but some of the bros I’ve met that have been NCT for a while are bone-spitting Jedis. They’ve come to see it as a necessary survival skill. There is just too much deep, rich, wonderful theology out there that you would be a fool not to read. But when you come to a section that you feel is in conflict with your understanding of Scripture, you should definitely check your traditions and ask God to guide you into the truth, but after wrestling with it, if you still disagree, should you sell your Calvin Commentary set? No way! Just eat the meat and spit the bones.
While I’ve seen this principle applied with great mastery by NCT folks, I’d love to see it spread across party lines because in reality, this is a Christian principle. We live in a fallen world and we need to get information from non-Christians an awful lot. As much as some of us would like to make Ben Shapiro an honorary Christian, that dude is an unbeliever and much of his attitude is needs to be rejected. But his stats and arguments can definitely be metabolized and applied with a loving and gentle spirit.
I’m starting to ramble on now, but I hope that God has used my ramblings to remind you that we will never find someone who believes exactly the same as us in every bit of minutia, so until glory, we all have to eat the meat and spit the bones.