Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Theologically opposed, but . . .

Thank you, Richard Hall, for pointing me to this post at Rebranded about a small interdenominational group the writer and his wife are a part of:
One of the people there is a Pentecostal fundamentalist. Theologically, I am opposed to everything she stands for, and I cringe when she starts talking about her latest revelation. She is into prosperity; health and wealth; those odd end-times prophecies about Israel; delivering people from spirits of chocolate, and asking God to direct her choice of socks in the morning. Everything that I have spent the last ten years ridiculing, she is.

But… she cares. She really cares. She cares about you, she cares about people in general. She loves God with a passion. And I feel lifted up when she comes into the room, and look forward to speaking to her. She’s become a friend. Her commitment has challenged me, and God has often spoken to me through her words.
I can't say I agree with all the conclusions later in the essay, but Rebranded is indeed on to something. Twenty-five years ago, in the days when I was struggling to find the truth, it wasn't great theological arguments, expert Bible exposition or correct doctrine that led me to the church. It was Christians who cared about my soul.


Anonymous John Hollandsworth said...

I hope many of us have had friends who we clearly saw Christ at work in them and in us through them yet had theologies which were unBiblical or worse. Of course, for that matter, I've had friends who have inspired and encouraged me through common grace who were entirely unsaved. For brothers and sisters in Christ who are truly trying to walk with God and yet have aberrant theology, though, the big question is when and how to intervene and speak the truth in love to help them grow toward greater maturity in Christ. There's no "one size fits all" answer in this situation, for it depends on the aberrance involved and your relationship. Any other thoughts???

3:45 PM, May 09, 2007  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for your input. You're exactly right that there's no "one size fits all" solution. I'm not completely satisfied with my own grasp of this situation, but I'll take a shot.

In general I look at right doctrine as a series of concentric circles with God at the center with the closer-in circles being the most important. In short:

1. Right doctrine is important at every level.
2. Nevertheless, some doctrines are more important than others. For example, knowing that there is one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is more important than whether or not we use fermented or unfermented grape juice at the Lord's Supper.
3. None of us get any of these doctrines completely correct, but God does expect us to make the effort and to come (for lack of a better term) reasonably close.
4. Because we never do get our doctrine infallibly right in our own minds, we must ultimately depend on God's grace more than our understanding of right doctrine.
5. Still, some doctrines are clearly worth fighting for (the nature of God, the role and nature of Jesus Christ, etc.) and drawing lines of fellowship.
6. Other doctrines (e.g. fermented or unfermented) may be worth debating but should not be fellowship-boundary issues.
7. Most doctrines don't fall clearly into either #5. or #6. above.
8. Thus the church needs a great deal of humility and prayer-dependence on God.
9. That means we keep our eyes not so much on ourselves, but on Jesus Christ.
10. If we keep doing #9, our doctrine will become better and better in line with God's truth.

5:16 PM, May 09, 2007  
Blogger DLE said...

One of the reasons that I'm in an independent Pentecostal church is because the people there practice what they believe. They're serious about their walk with God in a way that you just don't find too much of today. Now they're not quite as "wacky" as the lady depicted here, thank goodness, so I feel even more comfortable in that regard.

Yes, we do hear a lot about "seed," but unlike some Pentecostal churches, "seed" does not necessarily mean "money." And that's a good thing, too.

The Christian life is a tenuous balance of doctrine and practice. Finding that swee tspot where both line up perfectly is extraordinarily difficult today. Sometimes you have to settle for close enough. (If that's blasphemous to any of you out there, then you haven't been around the church very long!)

Like Milton said in his #2, some doctrines are more important than others. I would also contend that some practices are more important than others, yet we seem to forget that. Jesus said many things about helping the poor, yet very few of us more well-off people do without our wants so a poor person can have his needs met.

6:35 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for your comments, Dan. I especially appreciate your comments about the poor.

7:18 PM, May 11, 2007  

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