Entire libraries have been written to answer them.

It's why theologians will never be out of a job.

We need people who know all the Bible and who think well about these things to help us figure them out.

After all, if God were to write a book--and that's what we believe we hold in our hands--it's no stretch to think there would be things in it hard to understand.

It's why C. S. Lewis will remain popular as long as a single Christian walks this earth. He helped us think through many of these matters that were befuddling us.

Let me present a metaphor for your consideration. See if this shines any light on the matter of believers and preachers and entire denominations disputing scriptures and truths.

Suppose in a living room there is an elephant. He is 600 pounds and invisible.

For our purposes, the elephant represents God's Truth through Jesus Christ.

Okay, with me now?

And suppose that the believers in the room can see him, although vaguely. "As through a mirror," Paul puts it (I Corinthians 13:12). Some see more clearly than others. New believers are just starting to behold and are awe-struck.

In the room, strangers (outsiders, unbelievers, seekers, whatever we wish to call them) come and go. They see no elephant, but they hear us talking about the elephant in the room.

Some are interested and some aren't. Some think we are delusional, but others want to know if there is such a Truth. They stop to investigate.

What puzzles the seekers is the way believers in the room are saying contradictory things about the elephant. Not everything, but some things. They agree on the vast majority of aspects, but disagree on numerous details.

A fellow standing in the doorway to the dining room points toward the center of the living room and says, "There he is." Across the room, a man near the foyer is pointing in the opposite direction, saying, "No, the elephant is there."

Someone has a grasp of the elephant's tail and builds an entire system of elephantology from that. Likewise, the guy who has a hold on his trunk. Those standing near the huge legs or the massive sides wonder how the other guys could be so mistaken.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, and the seemingly contradictory teachings are merely pointing from their locations to that reality.

At a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the thousands of messengers were doing what we do best: holding an open business meeting where anyone who wished could walk to a microphone and address the huge throng.

The subject was some theological issue that was threatening to divide our body. Few were neutral, most speakers had strong opinions, and each side was accusing the other of not loving the Lord or believing the Word sufficiently.

A man at one of the microphones was recognized to speak. He identified himself as Bob Franklin, and said, "Years ago, when I was growing up on an Alabama farm, sometimes our calf would get out of the fence and my dad would keep me out of school to help him look. On one occasion we were combing the woods in search of that heifer. We came to where the hollow divided with a ridge in the middle. My dad said, 'Son, you go that way and I'll go this way. Because I just have a feeling that calf could be on both sides of this ridge."

The truth often is somewhere in between the stances we take.

That's why we need a major helping of humility and dependence on the Holy Spirit when we come to understand and interpret the Word of the Lord.

It's why we need to cut slack to those who see things differently from us.

And it's why we need not to be so hard and fast in our views on matters where good and sincere people differ lest we wound a brother or sister and be found in error.

This, some will be encouraged to know, is not a new problem. Believers have wrestled with these issues from the beginning. We are forever indebted to the Apostle Peter for pointing this out in an unforgettable way. There is nothing else in the Bible quite like this: