Shaving Doctrine With Occam’s Razor

There are many doctrinal disagreements in the Christian world. If a Christian has said something, there is another Christian who disagrees with what was said.

Doctrines multiply like mice. Discerning which of the doctrines scrambling around your feet are right, can get tough.

One basic tenet that I hold to in examining doctrine is the complexity test. There hits a point in my head where I’ve determined an explainer has done too many gymnastics. I don’t know how to define where that line is, but I know when someone has crossed it.

It might be the moment when my mind begins to wander.

I am not the originator of this theory of detecting truth. William Occam is the one credited with this theory. Occam’s Razor is what it’s called. Fancily it goes like this:

a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities

Now, this is somewhat of an ironic definition of Occam’s Razor, because this definition gets very complex! The simple-man’s definition is this: Keep it simple, stupid.

If only his name were simple. . .
If only his name were simple. . .

A sure sign of a failing theory is if it becomes overly complicated.

Who shot JFK is a great example. When weighing between a Soviet/FBI plot involving multiple shooters and conspirators versus one nut job shooting the president, go with the one nut job as the most likely theory. In fact, if you apply Occam’s Razor, all conspiracy theories melt away.

If you can’t generally explain your theological point in one sentence, you might not know what you are talking about. Or, if you do know what you’re talking about, your theory is probably wrong.

If you have to explain for 12 minutes how to approach the subject before touching on your subject, you might be in need of a shave.

The Bible is a complex book with many complex doctrines, some of which are not even attempted to be explained. The Bible states things simply, matter of factly. Yes, each doctrine can be pontificated on endlessly and all doctrines tie together into a grand depth and unity.

But there is much simplicity. Don’t lose the simplicity in all the complexity. The object of a good teacher is to make the complex simple. You know you’ve learned when you can explain something simply.

Don’t blow yourself away by trying to be intellectual and impressive. That just leads to empty words and confusion. Keep stuff simple.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.


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