The Understanding Test
Have you ever engaged someone in a friendly debate only to hear them say “that’s not what I believe” or “that’s not what I mean?”. I’ve said that to others and have heard that said back to me. This often happens when we learn about a position from someone who doesn’t hold to it. Though it may be unintentional, when we disagree with a position we will usually not present it in the same way as if we agreed with it.
So how do we know if we truly understand a viewpoint or doctrine? Do we really understand Buddhism and Islam? Calvinism and Arminianism? How about the various views on head covering? How would we know if we really do understand them? Let’s take Islam as an example. If you read a few Christian apologetic books on Islam, do you understand Islam? Not necessarily, as you don’t know if the author is faithfully communicating Islam’s beliefs. How about if you read the Qu’ran yourself? That’s a step in the right direction. Reading source documents is a great way to eliminate bad argumentation but it still doesn’t guarantee you understand a belief. After all, most of us have encountered the Atheist who has read the Bible but grossly misrepresents Christianity. Then how can we know if we truly understand a position? The “understanding” test is this: can you faithfully communicate a position you disagree with, to someone who holds to it, in such a way that they recognize their own view in your words? When we can do that and have them affirm “Yes, that’s what I believe” we truly understand their position.
You may be wondering why I would bring this up since this is a blog about head covering. The reason is, I don’t want you to only hear a positive case for covering and be ignorant of how someone who disagrees would respond. I want you to not only be able to to understand why you believe in head covering, but to know why people don’t as well. I just heard about a young lady who was sat down by two well meaning Christians. They tried to convince her to stop covering and it shook her up. She was caught off guard by their arguments. I don’t want that to be you. I want you to know what they’re going to say, before they say it. I want you to be able to defend their belief as well (or even better) than they can. This is a healthy process that often leads us closer to the truth since we must go through a “sharpening” process to arrive there. It can be tough questioning your own beliefs and hearing really convincing arguments against it. But we’ll be better off for it.
If you cover all the time, do you know why people only cover in church? Can you give a biblical defence for why they arrive at that conclusion? If you believe long hair is the only covering required, do you know why others view it as insufficient and insist on an artificial one? If you believe in covering, do you know why some only view the principle behind the symbol to be ongoing? Do you pass the “understanding” test on these issues?
If you’re on this site and you disagree with head covering, I encourage you to read through the various articles we’ve posted to understand our position better. It’s a good thing to have a clearer understanding why your brothers and sisters see this issue differently than yourself. Since we actually believe in head covering, it’s beneficial to learn about head coverings from us. When we write our articles we try very hard to present the contrary side in a good light. We try to present their case in a way they’d affirm and want it presented. However, we don’t go into same depth they would and it’s almost always better to hear a perspective from an advocate of it. So today, for my brothers and sisters who believe head covering is timeless, let’s take some time to hear other positions in their own words. I’m going to link to some of the best articles I’ve found that communicate popular contrary positions. For each position, I’ll also share a link to how we’d respond to that viewpoint.
CONCISE: John MacArthur: Women, Prophecy, and Head Coverings
IN-DEPTH: Thomas R. Schreiner – Head Coverings, Prophecies and the Trinity 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
> Our response to this objection READ
Daniel Wallace: What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor 11:2-16 and Does it Apply to Us Today?
> Our response to this objection READ