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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Ingrown Christianity

I read lots of blogs, especially those that focus on Christianity in one way or another. And while many are very good and stay focused on the essentials, others are hopelessly mired in group introspection.

Endless bickering over opinions, history, labels... it reminds me of a game of “capture the flag” or “king of the hill”. People run around trying to claim the high ground, repelling all contenders by any means necessary. They put so much energy into the minutiae of a theory, such as who is really a Baptist or whether one can be labeled an Arminian if they reject even one of the petals of the TULIP, that it sounds more and more like the old debate about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin.

Is this what Christianity is all about? An unbeliever could easily get that impression.

Another growing problem I see is the willingness of many to sweep things under the rug for the sake of saving face. Some groups of believers fear loss of funding or approval from their superiors so much that they post anonymously. Now I can understand doing so if one’s life would be put in danger by enemies of the gospel, but fear of losing a “Christian” job or position or reputation-- from one’s own fellow believers??

It is at the same time both sad and infuriating to watch this happen in blog after blog and the old mainline denominations. Nobody wants their huge, pretty boat to be rocked or their precious apple cart to be upset. They call secrecy “privacy” and justify closed-door meetings to protect privileged people from the light of accountability. They have forgotten the simple gospel and want to make sure only their package of details is followed. They fight to keep women silent and to maintain the unbiblical clergy/laity class distinction that is so comfortable and familiar.

With Jude we can say that many of us would prefer to talk about this wonderful gift of salvation, and all that follows from a restored relationship with God. But instead we find ourselves having to “contend for the faith”-- even from our own “household”. Who needs to defend against unbelievers when your own spiritual siblings count you as their enemy? They drag us into endless wars over semantics, theories, majority views, labels, interpretations, and methods; we fiddle while the lost burn. They hurl accusations such as “license to sin” and claim only their views are true and Biblical, some claiming only theirs are “doctrines of grace” or saying “let’s not divide over doctrine” even at the expense of the gospel itself.

So, dear control freaks: leave us alone! We have a lost world to reach, but you keep preventing us from going out. You want us to stay home and get all our doctrinal ducks in the rows you decree, and make sure that any gospel presentation is loaded with your particular brand of baggage. Surely we can find better motivation for studying the Bible than to refute another believer’s personal preferences. Let’s keep the baby and throw out that old bathwater; let’s keep the gospel and stop turning on each other over our personal preferences.

Focus!

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:25-31)

Posted 2008-12-08 under Nature of God, Organization, Christian Living, The World