Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Two handed Doctrine

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Church, Theology
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Christians need to know what's worth fighting for...

Mark Driscoll once preached a sermon in which he described a “two-handed” approach to Doctrine. As a young guy with training wheels on his theology, I’m exceedingly thankful for having heard that sermon about a year and a half ago. God continues to use it to this day as I try to sort through what His Word says and how I can be faithful to that in current and future service to Him.

Although this is probably true for all men, I’ve noticed us young guys in particular tend to go one of two directions regarding theological conviction…we either come across as an arrogant, critical, self-righteous jerk who is defined more by what we’re against than what we’re for, or we come across as passive, cowardly, sweet little church boys who won’t fight for anything and who everyone loves but no one respects. Neither approach is fitting for a Kingdom servant.

And I think Driscoll’s insights have proven time and again to be very clarifying and well balanced in truth and humility. His basic view is that there are certain doctrines that we hold in the closed hand (essential, non-negotiable) and there are those that we hold in the open hand (we can lovingly agree to disagree). In other words, there are doctrines that need to divide us and those that need not divide us. The key is to know what to hold in which hand.

For the Christian, there are core, foundational beliefs that simply can’t be compromised. The Bible is God’s Word, God is one God in three persons, we’re sinners, Jesus died on the cross in our place for our sins, Jesus rose from death on the 3rd day, apart from Jesus you will go to Hell, etc. These are close handed, non-negotiable beliefs that should be defended and held dear as points of unity amongst Christians no matter what their tribe.

Other issues concerning God’s foreknowledge, eschatology, spiritual gifts, etc, are things that should be held in humility in the open hand. That doesn’t mean we don’t have convictions on such secondary issues, but to me there’s no reason that Christians need to divide over these kind of issues. Too many Christians make their theology a prison and not a home…a place they can’t escape to serve alongside other brothers and sisters in Christ. Somewhere in between the fundamentalist who wants to fight over everything and the liberal who won’t fight for anything is a loyal, humble, Kingdom servant that seeks to proclaim the Gospel and make the invisible God visible through His Church. My prayer is that God will continue to move us all in that direction.

The bottom line is that Christians are in a war. This isn’t a game. And to make war on the powers of darkness, we need soldiers who care less about themselves and more about Jesus and those who don’t yet know Him. And Doctrine is mission critical to the advancement of the Gospel, especially for the young men who will serve our local churches. As Paul told young Timothy:

“16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Tim 4:16

Men of character and men of sound doctrine lead Christ’s church. And in doing so, we need to be very careful to know what goes in the closed hand and what goes in the open hand. Cowards have no place in Kingdom service. Neither do arrogant jerks. Jesus was neither. And if we’re truly to be His body, shouldn’t we follow Him?  

 

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“Trampling upon human hearts”

Posted: March 27, 2011 in Church, Gospel
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A great post from Kevin DeYoung.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/23/trampling-upon-human-hearts/

Journey home

Posted: January 1, 2011 in Church
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About 6 months ago I left what had been the only church family I’ve ever known. At the time, the only answer I could provide as to why was that I felt as though God was leading me somewhere else. For some folks, such a reason wasn’t reason at all. After 4 years of building relationships, holding various leadership roles, learning and growing under many gifted pastors, and graduating from this particular movement’s version of seminary, “God is leading me somewhere else” didn’t really seem to cut it. And I get that. As a highly analytical, introverted, internal processor, my decisions often seem abrupt and perhaps even inconsiderate to those who are affected by them. It’s definitely something that I need to be more aware of. There were people who deserved to be better informed of what I felt God was putting on my heart so as not to have the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath them. To be fair, part of my thinking was that I wanted to leave quietly. I had begun to question a lot of things and I felt the best thing for the church was that I say little and walk away until I had the answers I needed. Still, there were probably some things that needed to be said or said differently. By God’s grace, I hope to learn from that.

The months that followed have undoubtedly been the most introspective and doctrinally shaping of my life. Many of the questions I had have been answered (which for me, has only led to more questions, but nevertheless…) and the ones that haven’t been answered are beginning to slowly unwind by the grace of God. I believe what was started in my heart and mind 6 months ago has now altered the course for my entire life in ministry. So yeah, needless to say…kind of a big deal.

That would be the good side. The bad side would be that the last 6 months have also been marked by a sense of “loss”,  periods of confusion, repeated bouts of what appeared to be spiritual warfare, and occasional loneliness. I had never truly been a part of a church so I had never known what it was like to leave one. My summation would simply be this: Christian community is not optional in the life of a Jesus follower. It’s essential. If I didn’t fully get that before, I certainly do now.

And by the grace of God I think I may have found my new home. At least I hope I have. And I also hope that God will continue to bless, protect, guide, and provide for my old home. Although there are things we disagree on, they are and always will be my family. I’d do anything for them and I’m grateful for all they’ve done for me. It’s just best that I move on.

And so the journey continues. While I’ll never tell anyone that following Jesus is easy, I can say that it’s never boring. My path has taken turns that I never would have anticipated. But realistically, many have sacrificed and left behind much more than I have to pursue God’s call. I’m just trying as best I can to be available. Where it leads is ultimately up to Him.

But for now, it seems to have led me home. We’ll see.