Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, and pastor at the University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, has a fine new blog. An early post is about the importance of theological unity in the local church, "The Crust and the Core":
.... There are many Christians and churches that don’t deny any cardinal doctrine of Christian faith, but they still don’t have a theological core. They have, instead, a musty statement of faith they barely understand and hardly believe and wouldn’t dare preach. They are animated and motivated by politics, church growth, relational concerns and the like, but the gospel is merely assumed. “Yes, yes—of course we believe in the Virgin Birth, and the atonement, and the resurrection, and heaven and hell,” they say. But its all periphery, not core. It’s all assumed, not all-consuming. Theologically hollow congregations and pastors may like to think they will bequeath a gospel legacy to the next generation, but the truth is we only pass on what is our passion. New converts and new kids won’t think and live and love like mature Christians, let alone be able to articulate the Christian story, if our beliefs rest in a pamphlet and not in our hearts. ....But, he warns, keep the theological correctness in proportion.
....There is so much talk around the broader church about being missional Christians that it’s easy to think the church should be missional-centric. And in one sense, mission is certainly at the center of what we do. But mission itself is not what ties us together or fires us up. It’s only when the mission is defined and it’s genesis is proclaimed that we can rally around mission.
What I mean is that we should be, first of all, Christocentric; that is, centered on the cross of Christ. Christ is our identity, our passion, and our hope. And because of this identity, passion, and hope we pray, and evangelize, and do missions. But missions is not the center. Christ is—which shapes, defines, and launches us into mission. It’s like John Piper’s famous line: “Mission is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is.” Being missional is not a sufficient basis for unity. One, because I’m never quite sure what missional means. Two, because the blazing hot center of Christian identity, passion, and hope is not that we are all doing things in Jesus name. Of course, we should be doing things in Jesus’ name. But the blazing hot center is what God has already done for us in Christ. ....
.... Some Christians allow evangelism to trump all other considerations, others size up fellow Christians by their attention to social justice concerns, but a lot of us do our judging with theology. If the theology fits, the lack of mission, prayer, and compassion doesn’t matter much. But if a few theological pieces are misplaced in the puzzle, see you later and don’t let Hymenaeus and Philetus door hit you on the way out.DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed: The Crust and the Core
Striking the balance is not easy. But let’s try hard to be discerning and grounded without always looking for the next theological misstep in our friends, our family, or the songs we sing. And let’s be able to tell the difference between wandering sheep and false teachers. We must delineate between a slightly ill-informed wording of a phrase and a purposeful rejection of truth. We must pursue a passion for fidelity to Scripture and a winsomeness that sweetens the already honey-like drippings of the word of God. .... [more]