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!