Where'd You Get That?
I was at a range, on the firing line. Several of us had been wringing the best out of our pistols in preparation for a match later that week. Being a belt and suspenders kind of guy I had ear plugs and a headset on so that I could one day hear my grandkids' laugh... but I still heard something wrong. It was a bang, but not the right kind of bang. I looked to my right and saw a friend of mine standing there with a stunned look on his face and a smoking pistol. His pistol -- a Glock 27 in .40 caliber S&W -- was broken and in pieces. Glocks don't break. They are, arguably, the most reliable and simple firearms out there. I quickly went over to him, cupped his hand and removed what was left of the pistol, checked to make sure it wouldn't go "bang" again, and moved him away from the line and into a chair. I called for a ceasefire and we all surrounded our friend and made sure he was all right. He was; just stunned.
I asked him where he got his ammunition. He told me that his friend reloaded some bullets for him. I checked the load and found out that there were two huge problems with the reloads: they were lead (which are never to be fired in Glocks) and they had way too much powder in them. He had gotten his loads from an unreliable source and now had a bruised hand and busted pistol because of it.
It is very, very important to know where you got your stuff, your ideas, and your conclusions. You never know when the thing you think is good and right is ... uh... not.
I was climbing in the Tetons of western Wyoming with some friends when we came to a picture perfect, high altitude creek. It was incredibly cold and bright as it dropped down from some glacier we hadn't made it to yet. My friends dropped down to drink and encouraged me to do the same. I hesitated. "Is it pure?" They laughed and waved around us, "How could it not be pure? We're up well over ten thousand feet. This is the purest water you'll ever drink." For some reason I decided not to drink. I would wait awhile longer.
Twenty minutes later we rounded a large outcropping of rock and saw, standing in the creek, several cattle. Some of them did what cattle do right there in front of us. In the water. My friends began turning slightly green. I helped them feel better by laughing so hard I pulled a stomach muscle.
Years ago when I still lived in Scotland we faced a crisis. A divorced and remarried woman wanted to be baptized. I was raised in the Taliban wing of the church (Al Queda chapter, Osama Division) and thus had no idea what I should do. I had a friend send me a debate between two preachers in the church on the subject and read it in two days. My wife saw me finally lay it down and asked me, "So? What do you think?" My reply was "I know which one said what I have always said... but the other one sounded a lot more like Jesus."
That set me off on a search upstream. I wanted to know why I thought what I thought and where I got it. It was an enlightening and troubling search. I found out that the standard, old paths, ancient ways teaching I had always taught had not been taught in the church until the late 1920's and wasn't widely accepted until the early 1940's. I had been scammed. I had taken a big drink of water that wasn't pure. I had accepted ammunition that wasn't reliable.
For the last twenty years I have continued that upstream search. I don't always go far enough before drinking. Worse, I have been known to share water with others that ended up not being as pure as I'd hoped. That grieves me, but the search will continue. Somewhere up there is pure faith, pure life, and the Source.
In the meantime -- don't handle any doctrine until you know where you got it... and where it's been.