Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wide Tents with Thick Walls

Did you hear?  Some Christians don't get along.  They have drawn a line in the sand and declared those on the other side Hereticstm and will now refuse to be friends!  Regardless of how you feel about it, these fights are increasing in frequency and angry rhetoric.  Is this ok?

In Matthew 12 Jesus is accused of being from Satan due to his ability to cast out demons.  This leads to a very important teaching moment for the church today.  "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand"(verse 25).  He goes on to illustrate that when we are divided we become ripe for destruction. 

So, should we just stop fighting.....

I want my kids to get along and love each other.  In a perfect world they would always be best friends and watch out for the other.  But this is not a perfect world, and my kids are not always best friends.  Sometimes, because I love them, I have to separate them and protect them from one another.

A few days ago I heard my 2 year old daughter began to cry in the other room.  My 4 year old son happened to also be in the room.  Since I am very Sherlockian in brilliant intuitive connections, I said to my son, "Why is your sister crying?"  He replied quite frankly, "She was playing tea party and I was playing crush things".......

I could  not allow my house to be divided, so following Jesus' wise counsel, I let my son continue to push around his little sister....

Wait, what?!?!

My son's behavior was unacceptable.  It is something we have addressed many times(and will surely be addressed many more).  In our house, you DO NOT pick on your siblings.  If you do, there are consequences.  I protect the unity of my house by addressing and putting a stop to hurting one another. 

The concept of unity is not found in ignoring bad behavior.  It is around rallying around love, truth and good behavior.  I love my kids unconditionally.  No matter how many times he hits his sister, I have never noticed a depreciating measure of my love for him.  I want to lead him in love towards being a child who treats his sister with love.  While also standing up to his bad behavior!

Do you know how difficult it would be to be a parent if our expectations and rules changed daily?  Today I tell my son to not hit his sister, and then tomorrow I ignore it, perhaps even reward it.  Talk about creating disunity!  Part of the hopeful effectiveness of lovingly teaching rules in our house is that they are consistent and reliable standards. 

The Church today has so many terrible fights and line drawing going on.  One day your are in, the next day you are out.  A hero today, a goat tomorrow.  Theologian extraordinaire in the first book, and Purveyor of Heresy in the next.  The goal post is constantly shifted to what it means to be a Christian. 

Sadly, this is not a new problem that has infected modern western Christianity.  From nearly the beginning of the Church people set up their little camps to duke it out over secondary doctrines that we were used as the lithmus test of True Christianstm.  So how have we made it 2000 years and counting with these ridiculous squabbles. 

Well, first and primarily, the fact that Jesus is alive.

But secondly I would contend that there have been moments in Church History that men were willing to lay down their differences and reaffirm that which was non-negotiable and true.  And that was quite a small list actually.  We, in many ways still lean on what they wrote.  We know them as the Creeds

I am not great theologian or Church Historian.  So don't go overboard on correcting my potential simplification of the matter.  I have linked to the two primary ones, the Apostles and Nicene creeds.  And in history there have been a number of other great statements of Faith that helped guide the church for many years. 

So why do I mention them?  I believe it is time for a new creed.  Not as a replacement, or a rewording, of the ones that have come before.  But one that can allow us to say, the tent is wide, but there are thick walls that clearly define us.  Perhaps you view justification and sanctification different than I, but if you affirm "these", then I can call you brother!  We have to not only be unified in fellowship, but also unified in correcting that which falls outside the fellowship. 

For those who read me religiously(hey Mom!! else...) I hope to never present myself as some sort of profound theologian.  But, to at least open up the discussion, here is my attempt at a new Creed that we can affirm together!

The 21st Century Creed
1.  The Old and New Testaments are an accurate and reliable testimony to the Living God, King of all Creation

2. Jesus is the Son of God who came to Earth as fully man and fully God for the purpose of dying in sinful mans place on the cross to pay the penalty of man's sin.  He rose three days later and in Him and Him alone we have hope of eternity with God.

3.  The Holy Spirit is the promised deposit given to each person who has professed faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.  It is through God in Us(the Holy Spirit) that we are empowered to fulfill the ministry of the Gospel and grow in every increasing maturity as followers of Christ.

4.  Each individual has a personal responsibility to respond to the claims of Christ and to claim Him as savior, or to reject Him.

5.  The Bible is our primary guide to life as followers of Christ and the functions of Christ's Church. 

This is probably far from complete, but what would you add, or take away?


  1. Great job Adam - this is a really good article.

  2. Perhaps a statement that Jesus will someday return to earth, judge humanity, and establish His kingdom forever. Despite a lot of views on exactly how that will happen, there isn't much disagreement in Christianity that it will happen.