Thursday, August 18, 2011

This one comes with a warning

WARNING:  This post is not for those easily offended or those hoping to find fault.  You will probably find it.   I feel compelled to add a disclaimer to the words I am about to write.  I am in no way teaching.  This is not a devotional.  This blog is a place I come to hash out my feelings, and my spiritual journey.  And while I can tell you what I believe, there is a reason that I do not feel at this time called to teach in a direct manner.  Only because my words are subject to human frailty.  The Word alone is truth.  What is revealed to me by Scripture, I may share, yet may not skillfully or easily translate it into the human language.  

I'm not going to call anyone out by name.  In fact, I share this only because it is what I am currently struggling with.

As I grow in my faith, as I seek knowledge and wisdom, I am increasingly aware that within the body of Christ there at times appear to be two camps. Appear.  I don't know that there truly are.

Reading a book, recommended by my father, a popular book among many Christians I respect, I came across something which didn't quite sound right.  So I Googled the author's name and the word 'universalism'.  I read  many articles last night and was so bothered I couldn't sleep.

Not because of what was laid out in the definition of universalism, which I don't subscribe to.  But because the 'camp' that was calling out the 'universalists' sounded as sketchy as those they were calling out.

Fundamental Christian terminology seemed to trip these writers up; terms like, 'grace', 'unconditional love' and 'practicing the presence'.  These are terms I believe in.  These are terms I thought most Christians believed in.

There was an abundance of articles on heresy and false prophets.  And the more I read the more confused I became.  For a couple of reasons.  Because one, many of the people who were being called out were authors easily accepted by Christians.  Two, I could recognize that many of the quotes employed for the purpose of calling these authors out were taken out of context.

That said, I could not find any articles of these authors defending themselves.

I have wondered for a time how those anointed by God could drift into unsound doctrine.  It happens.  And so my struggle is not with temptation to accept an unsound doctrine but with leaders.  In both camps.  Growing up in the church, there were certain things I took for granted about my faith.  Certain truths.  I have not and will not turn my back on these.  But I do fear that as false doctrines are emerging on one side, so are, dare I say it, pharisees on the other.

On both sides are those whose God is too small.

There are for sure words that make me bristly; words like, 'reformed' and 'emergent'.  I would rather hear about a church experiencing revival than reformation.  And yet, how can I merge this fear with my belief in the necessity of the Protestant Reformation?  Further complicating the matter, is that research indicates that many of those who share my caution in the above mentioned areas, seem to have an equal invalidated caution for words I am comfortable with; terms like, 'charismatic', 'spirituality' and 'contemplative'.    And then there is the problem many 'caller-outers' have with women preaching, tongues, prophecies and the desert fathers.    And these are not perhaps, black and white issues, or rather, not so easily made black and white by us.

I have had my areas of struggles in all of the above.  And yet, I would not call all of the above, 'heresy'.

And so unfortunately, there are many books available right now, which have brought freedom to many which are now subject to interrogation.  Whether they ought to be or not, honestly, I don't know.

I don't come here to offer to or ask anything of you.  I am only here, typing because I feel these are tricky times.  I am wondering if I ought not to read Scripture alone for a time, maybe take a break from the words of some.  And also called to state that, although, I may have quoted books I was reading at the time of my previous writings, books which I gained insight from, if I unintentionally cosigned a false doctrine, this was not my intention.

I am drawn currently to Martin Luther's sentiment that "O that God should desire that my interpretation and that of all teachers should disappear, and each Christian should come straight to the Scripture alone and to the pure word of God!  You see from this babbling of mine the immeasurable difference between the word of God and all human words, and how no man can adequately reach and explain a single word of God with all his words...."

And even that may cause worry for some.  I do not wish to imply no need for teachers.  I am simply echoing James 3, which instructs, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.  We all stumble in many ways."

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest in righteousness."
-James 3:17-18

This is my prayer for the Church.  I pray for wisdom, purity and a love of peace.  For leaders who can expose those who are in opposition to the truth but who can do so in a manner which is loving and reasonable, without slander and without conceit.


  1. Learning is an ongoing experience. I'd never suggest that quoting a book implies that you agree with everything the author holds or that you can't change your mind in the future. Maybe Christians too often expect authors/teachers to have everything right, but even if we were infallible, there's the problem that we don't - can't - know everything.

    Sometimes I'm shocked by what someone promotes, but I try to focus on what I can learn from it: Why did the author reach that conclusion? How would I answer if someone asked me about this? Is this a serious point of disagreement, or is it not worth destroying unity in the faith for sake of opinion in this case? Having well-informed opinions is worth being exposed to ideas you disagree with.

  2. I agree completely, yet it can be frustrating when what you thought was trustworthy seems to not be suddenly.