What will insure that the church survives? Will it be our programs and propositions? Or will it be the faithfulness of Him who gives the increase when we plant and water the seed of His kingdom?
As one who is committed to truth, the following caught my eye from among several comments & links in Tim Archer’s Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts today.
For one thing “Truth” is not rational abstraction — a concept, doctrine, or idea you can write down — especially not one which you conveniently have right and everyone else conveniently has wrong. Truth-as-a-rational-abstraction constitutes a denial of the incarnation (and big chunks of the New Testament). Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.
Many in the churches of Christ would deny that “we” should be classed among the Evangelicals though we hold many things in common to them. Nevertheless, I clicked on the link and read the article. I think you might enjoy doing that as well by clicking here.
The author, Tim Suttle, points to the countless divisions in Protestantism. We in the churches of Christ, while beginning as a ‘unity movement,’ have also in practice shown a proclivity to division. Then Suttle asks:
If we refuse to organize around doctrinal statements, if we admit that in the hands of immature people these statements are just a means of power and control, then what can hold us together?
The answer, I believe, is mission.
Mission is this rich confluence of orthodoxy and orthopraxy [that is, practicing Truth, not just teaching it - Jerry], where the truth ceases to be a rational abstraction and becomes embodied in concrete communities of action who are able to work together despite doctrinal differences. Mission begins with the recognition that the center of Christianity is Jesus Christ and his mission of redemption. Mission should constitute the evangelical center. I’m talking about justice, mercy, faith and living in allegiance to the Gospel. If we join together around the pursuit of those things, then we will see how much we have in common.
I believe his article has much to say to “us” in the churches of Christ.
By putting Jesus and following Him at the center of how we define ourselves, as opposed to defining ourselves by the doctrines we hold, we come close to what Jesus said to His disciples when He was in the shadow of the cross:
Love one another, as I have loved you. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34)
As Suttle points out, Truth is not a dogma, but a person. The Bible is not The Truth, but instead faithfully witnesses to Him who is Truth (cf. John 14:6). When the church leaves its first love, it is in danger of having its candlestick removed by Him who walks in the midst of His golden candlesticks.
Why is there this danger? It is because there is no purpose for having a light-holder when it is not holding light. When we cease to be “the light of the world” and “a city set on a hill that cannot be hid,” there is no need for a candlestick for us. When that happens, we do not survive as His church.
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