Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The gospel that unites us

Trevin Wax reminds us to keep things in perspective. Among those things which are important there are levels of importance. It is a significant error to confuse those issues that divide Christians with those that define us as Christians. At Kingdom People:
When we makes gender issues a first-order matter and go so far as to call this a “gospel issue” (whether for or against women in pastoral ministry), we are exaggerating a distinction.

When we make formal Bible translations (over against the dynamic-equivalent translations) a test of fellowship and go so far as to express our hatred and derision for other translations, we are exaggerating a distinction.

When we decide that those who do not hold to the doctrines of grace (i.e. Calvinism) don’t truly understand the gospel, we are again exaggerating distinctions, providing rationale for our own existence at the expense of Christian fellowship.

I am convinced that much of our in-house squabbling over theological matters and our smug “pat-ourselves-on-the-back” attitude that says, Thank God I’m not like the egalitarians, the Emergents, the liturgical, the Arminians, the charismatics and the Catholics is actually a subconscious attempt to exaggerate the distinctions that provide us a reason for existing. We think of this exaggeration as a survival mechanism, but actually, it will kill our effectiveness. ....

Let me be clear on something. I do not believe we should do away with doctrinal distinctives. I am a Reformed-leaning, complementarian, Bible-driven minister who holds tightly to the fundamentals of the faith.

But I will not confuse second-order doctrinal distinctives with first-order doctrines. Once we journey down that road, we’ll eventually start confusing third-order doctrinal distinctives with first order doctrines, and we’ll wind up as isolated, irrelevant, and shrill as our independent friends.

We should not locate our Christian identity in what separates us from other believers, but in the gospel that unites us with other believers, the gospel that calls us out of the world to serve the world.
Kingdom People: The Fundamentalist Survival Mechanism

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