My Baptist Jesus can beat up your Methodist Jesus!

I used to go to a pretty hard core independent fundamental bible believing baptist church.  We weren’t really legalists though – women could wear pants so we were pretty liberal.  We were even heretics in a lot of circles – especially because we had drums for our choir.  But the word of God in the King James AV 1611 1726 edition like Jesus used was our authority.  Because we were bible believing AND independent – we preached the TRUTH untainted by denominational politics.  And we sang the great hymns of the faith with conviction.  And if the Spirit led we would have a special song by Ray Boltz or maybe even Steven Curtis Champan that would bring fire down from heaven.  After all we wanted to be relevant so it couldn’t be all hymns.  Sure, we believed Southern Baptists, most Methodists, a lot of Presbyterians, some Lutherans, a few Episcopalians, many Charismatics, and maybe a handful of Catholics were going to heaven because they believed that Jesus died, was buried, and rose the third day.  But…

We understood the scriptures, had the right form of worship,  practiced the proper form of church government, drilled bible verses into people’s heads, taught them the right way to believe certain things concerning the rapture, the second coming, dispensational truth, baptism, etc.  We also taught them what was wrong with Calvinism and Armenian theology and how to trace the baptist lineage back through the anabaptists all the way to the church at Antioch.  We told them what movies and books were acceptable for Christians and which ones weren’t.  We knew which music was God honoring and held to the truth about Christian Rock.  We knew alcohol was off limits because Jesus really turned water to Grape Juice and passed it off as wine and we gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to missionaries who would agree to believe and teach what we did so that we could impact the world.

Some crap like that.

Here’s the deal.  Do you honestly think the way that you believe about certain doctrines, certain forms of worship (which get a lot of attention on this blog) or certain denominations etc are “more correct” than others.  Do you believe your church is “more right” about Jesus than the church down the street?  Do you believe because you do things a certain way or that you read a certain bible version or sing certain kinds of songs that you have more light than other people and therefore while they may be christian they are not as good a Christian as you are and that somehow you will have a bigger mansion in heaven because of it?

Do you believe your traditional Jesus can beat up my contemporary Jesus?

This is the kind of spiritual arrogance that seems to permeate the culture that I live in here in the buckle of the bible belt.   And I believe it is precisely this kind of spiritual arrogance that says “we are better than you” that keeps people out of our churches.  If you think your theology, style, whatever, is better than the guy right next door to you – then you also probably think that because you are a Christian you are better than the people you are trying to reach.  And you are not.  You are a sinner who found grace.  So am I.  And so is the person who lives next door and downloads porn.  So is the person who gets drunk every week.  So is the girl in your class that sleeps around. So is the co-worker in your office who…

Get it?  What people need to know is that God loves them and Jesus died for them and we need to focus on that and figure out how to communicate that to everyone in our communities in a way they can understand so they can fall in love with the Real Jesus – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – the Bridegroom of a glorious bride who is beautiful and without blemish and the one who already beat up the god of this world and one day will send him away for ever.  And however that all works out in the end – guess what – we’ll all be together – doing one thing – worshiping Jesus.

Here is the truth.  None of us have it figured out.  Yes we have the word of God.  But we seek through a dark glass.  Absolutely there are things that are non-negotiable.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was sinless and became sin and died and rose from the dead and He alone can save and no-one comes to the father any other way.   Everything your church does to preach it, teach it, celebrate it, propagate it, etc is just details.  Maybe its time we stop fighting each other and the culture  – and focus on Jesus and making Him famous!

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21 thoughts on “My Baptist Jesus can beat up your Methodist Jesus!

  1. This is an absolutely beautiful article. I could not have agreed with you more on this issue!

    It’s something like that rectangle phenomenon:
    That the mystery that is God is at the centre of a rectangle; and all the 4 corners of the rectangle have windows. Each window offers a view towards the centre, and each window has its preferences. Some windows might rely more on scripture; some on logic; some on tradition, philosophy, etc.
    And each denomination within Christianity, ascribes to one window or the other.

    So each window provides a view towards the centre, and all the views provide a fractional insight to the mystery. They might all vary, but are all correct in their own way.
    And much more than the differences, are the similarities between them.

    And the ultimate goal is, as you said, focus on God.

  2. Ah, Ray Boltz. I remember my “Thank You” performance track tape being used so much it basically fell apart. I still cringe when I think of that song.

    Good point! Unfortunately, I think most churches will die out fighting against each other or against the Christian revolution that is going on today. It’s sad, but I believe it is a “pruning of the vineyard”.

  3. So then does the muslim “have me” when he tells me that I shouldn’t be so hard on Islam as a false religion since we’re all worshipping the same God anyhow (never mind that they deny that the precious Jesus Christ — fully God and fully man — has any saving efficacy)?

    Following this logic, I would have to wonder if there’s every a point that we would ever draw a line and say .. I’ve got the truth?

    And if that’s the case, why bother?

    I can be just as much “saved” or “christian” sitting home drunk and occaisionally beating my live-in girlfriend, cheating on her with my sideline boyfriend, denying the Jesus of the New Testament. yelling racial slurs at anyone with darker skin than I, locking my kids in the closet when I’m mad at them. Aside from the legal issues involved there (what’s a few days in jail anyhow?), no eternal harm done — after all, we’re all God’s children, right?

    That said, I recognize that there is a very legalistic attitude some people have (no relegated to IFB churches like the one mentioned, but they’re definitely some of the worst offenders). But the reaction should never be a “I’m ok, you’re ok” attitude.

    We’re all dirty, rotten sinners that need the grace of Jesus Christ (look at Romans 2:1-10), to be sure. And it was not because of any merit of my own that I am saved (look at Ephesians 2:1-10).

    But that does not ignore the role of absolute truth claims. In fact, it embraces them. You can say “You’re a sinner” — not because of your personal judgement, but because of the revealed word of God. You can say “Jesus loves you” — because it’s God-given Truth!

    Yes, there are some gray areas in the Christian life … that should never be overlooked. But it’s not all gray. And even when it’s not (when the Bible plainly says this or that), we ought to take Paul’s advice from I Corinthians 8 where he begins by saying the Knowledge puffeth up but charity edifieth. We must speak the truth (never give up on the existance of absolute truth and constantly hold to those claims), but speak it in love.

  4. Hey MJ…you are going to have to explain what you are talking about…I don’t think I understand the point.

  5. Sorry … being way to wordy and convoluted (not necessarily going to fix that with this post, mind you!).

    First, here’s the specific part of the post I was reacting to:

    “Here’s the deal. Do you honestly think the way that you believe about certain doctrines, certain forms of worship (which get a lot of attention on this blog) or certain denominations etc are “more correct” than others. Do you believe your church is “more right” about Jesus than the church down the street?”

    The fact is, I do believe (strongly, in fact) that the way I believe about doctrines is “more correct.” Otherwise, why hold to them? More to the point, why not change them.

    I do believe my form of worship is more correct—if I didn’t (and (I must admit that I’m increasingly being convicted of how I’m wrong in this and the Spirit is showing me that) I should change.

    In fact, I do think that my denomination is more correct—otherwise, why bother with identifying with it. Otherwise we’re looking at traditions of men (I’m Baptist ’cause momma was) and that just seems wrong.

    I do believe my church is “more right” about Jesus than the church down the street. If I didn’t, I would switch to the church down the street. Again, why would I cling to something that’s less than correct. After all, wasn’t that what the Reformation was all about?

    I believe that these issues are very important in that they have influence on folks’ view of doctrines such as salvation and the nature of God. Hence my question about the comparison of the poster’s question to the theoretical muslim’s question. I’m simply trying to indicate that questioning the absolute truth of certain “post-salvation” doctrines (how to worship, certain theologies, etc) calls into question the “pre-salvation” ones (we’re all sinners, Jesus died for you, God saves you, etc.) as well.

    Second, I say all of that in disagreement with your post (or at least this specific aspect of it). But here’s where I have to agree with the sentiment expressed and frankly, it’s where the real sting comes in:

    “Do you believe because you do things a certain way or that you read a certain bible version or sing certain kinds of songs that you have more light than other people and therefore while they may be christian they are not as good a Christian as you are and that somehow you will have a bigger mansion in heaven because of it?”

    The fact is, I’m (you’re/no one is) no better because of any particular belief. If you believe what Paul’s writing about in I Corinthians, we come to these absolute truth claims because of the unity, confirmation and discernment of the Holy Spirit. This is why love must prevail in any discussion of doctrine from any view point. But it’s a false dichotomy to suggest that to disagree (and therefore hold fast to what I believe) is to not love. But where there’s a huge ring of truth to this post: many (most) people who do that (hold fast to their views) don’t do it in love; therefore this is a necessary caution.

    Not sure if I explained myself or just muddied the waters more … just ignore me if it’s the latter!

  6. Another great reminder! It is true that we as Christians have been so divided and sidetracked from what is important, the Gospel itself.

    Obviously, even Paul had problem with this and took a great length to remind those churches to be united in this issue as well. It is hardwork just to be united in simple things of life!!!!

    Yes, just like mjtilley said:

    many (most) people who do that (hold fast to their views) don’t do it in love; therefore this is a necessary caution

    They have certainly ‘miss the mark’. So, let us be united and remember what is important. Let’s run this race together, as a body of Christ, built each other up, and let the glory be His!

  7. Moviepastor,

    You asked :

    Do you believe your church is “more right” about Jesus than the church down the street?

    I’ll bite. Sure I do.

    The ‘church’ right across the street from mine is a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. Enough Said.

    But in all seriousness your post was very autobiographical. I have spent a lot of time in that type of church myself. But I feel like your post was more a reaction to something said on the comment boards that reminded you of your past than a rebuttal to a true position being put forward by anyone on this site.

    If you were equating my arguments as an apologetic for a the type of church that you bolted from then you are mistaken.

    The issue is not Contemporary vs. Traditional. Both are valid styles of worship. Quite frankly there are so many more options that just these two. For instance, Black Gospel and Messianic Jewish are two more styles that I personally enjoy. But, let’s not forget Russian Orthodox and Charismatic Episcopalian.

    The style is not the issue. Content is the issue.

    And I do NOT think that every denomination has equal amounts of the truth. Some are teaching flat out false doctrine.

    Nor do I believe that every song that is ‘called’ Christian should be sung in church. See my previous comments.

    Nor do I believe that every one who calls Jesus Lord is a Christian. (Matt 7:21).

    Let’s be honest here…You believe your point of view is ‘more right’ than the point of view you were arguing against otherwise you wouldn’t have put this post up.

    So quit bashing people for holding to an objective standard of truth and defending that standard. Because you hold to your own standard of truth and are very passionate in your defense of that standard.

    After reading your post I’m not sure what your standard is. Are you arguing that any and all denominations have it right?

  8. Maybe all denominations have it wrong? I’m being only slightly serious here. We draw lines in the sand where there doesn’t seem to be any in Scripture. Chris, Dave’s post may be a bit reactionary. I’m not sure, I don’t really know him. But if it is, that’s where he is on his journey, I think the real question is behind the intent of this post. So many people are busy trying to “Denominationalize” the world that they forget to evangelize it. They want to make people baptist, or fundamental, or purpose driven (put that one in just for you) rather than make disciples of Jesus. Too often we rail at the darkness for being dark rather than just shining the light we have. I think (and Dave correct me here if I’m wrong) the point here is you can either spend time finding something wrong with everyone else or you can do something. The Baptists think they’re right, the Methodist and the Lutherans, and everyone else does too.
    One of my best friends was a Lutheran pastor when I was a Baptist pastor. We took grief for that friendship–especially when we helped each other’s congregations out. That’s silly.
    Enough preaching on my part.
    ****Cue Amazing Grace and prepare for an alter call and offering****

  9. Joe,

    Once again you and I are much closer in our thinking than you know.

    I personally subscribe to the confessions of the Lutheran chruch because in my study of the scriptures I believe that those confessions are the most accurate synopsis of what scripture actually teaches. But I’ve been teaching in an SBC church. Why? because I believe that true Christian doctrine does not belong to a denomination. So I view the Lutheran Confessions as ‘CHRISTIAN’ Confessions. If the doctrine outlined in them is TRUE then it doesn’t belong to the Lutherans it belongs to ALL Christians. If the doctrine is NOT true then every Christian should reject it.

    The fall of denominations is opening the door to doctrinal discussions and ideas that were not possible 20 years ago. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

    But it all comes back to properly interpreting and handling God’s Word.

    I do believe that there is a such thing as pure Christian doctrine. That some docrtrines taught in Christian Churches is false, some doctrines are mixed with error and others are spot on.

    Gaurding our life and doctrine does mean looking beyond just our view of Jesus and what he has accomplished for us.

    I’ve found that all doctrines eventually impact our view of Jesus no matter how insignificant we may think that doctrine may be.

    I once received an email from a gal who attended Hybel’s church. In his defense of female pastors Hybels attacked the ‘cultural views of the apostle Paul’. Hybels arguments against Paul led this woman to eventually distrust all of Pauls writings. But it didn’t stop there. She told me that eventually led her to doubt the entire Bible and her own salvation.

    Now when Hybels set out to defend women in the ministry he was not intentionally trying to undermine the authority of God’s word and undermine anyone’s faith but that was one of the unintended results that came about as a result of his monkeying with the Sciptures.

  10. Chris, Without getting into the whole “women in ministry debate” I find that young ladies reasoning to sound like nothing more than “the devil made me do it.” Does she not have the Holy Spirit living in her? If not, then she has bigger problems than what one man teaches on Paul. For her to blame Hybels for her own sin is silly and more sin to boot. If she does have the Holy Spirit living in her, He will testify to the truth. But even there we run into problems in that we all hold onto our “things” that we think are more right. To an extent I suppose we can’t change that. We have to have some construct from which we act out of, but I believe a greater Testimony would be born out of different churches acting like the Church.

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  12. Great post!

    From the responses here I think it’s obvious that you managed to step on most of the landmines in the area but it’s for a good cause.

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  14. AMEN!!! I spent four years in an Independent Fundamental KJV 1611 Baptist church. However, I believe it was far more rigid than yours–Ray Boltz and Steven Curtis Chapman were definitely out of the question, because anything written in the past 100 years that is NOT a hymn, is of course, the devil trying to infiltrate the church with the world. Our women wore dresses–big dresses, and our men were always wearing suits and ties. Anything beyond a traditional piano and very old-fashioned hymn singing was strictly out of the question.

    Charismatics–going to heaven? How could they when their women wear pants to church? Catholics? Definitely not!

    I’m glad that the blood of Jesus washed away all our sinful stupidity and self righteousness.

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