I have been disturbed by the “emergence” of post-modernism in the Church for quite a while. I couldn’t articulate my feelings. I had a lot of thoughts and opinions, I just couldn’t find the words. What I did do was to start reading. I read a number of blogs and recently came across a posting by C Michael Patton of the Parchment and Pen called “Understanding the postmodern mind and the emerging church“. When I read this, I thought he had been reading my mind. He is clearly a better writer than I could hope to be. I recommend that you read this excellent post.
Because of their distrust of tradition, my conversations with those in the “emergent movement” have led me to reevaluate why I believe what I believe. Sometimes this has softened my stance on the issues in the church that the Bible doesn’t speak clearly on (infant or adult baptism, sprinkling or submersion, pre-trib,mid-trib, post-trib etc.) and it has strengthened the foundation of my beliefs on the things that matter most (salvation, redemption, grace). I used to tell people that there is Doctrine and Dogma. Loosely, doctrine is man’s interpretation of what we believe and dogma is God’s truth that is undeniable. We can agree to disagree on doctrine as long as we both agree on the dogma.
One of the authors points, and one that I see too much in emerging churches is this attitude that you can’t take a stand for anything or you won’t be liked. They come to this because they believe that in our limited understanding, we can not fully know the truth. So, if we can’t know the truth, who is to say who’s truth is correct. My truth is true for me and your truth is true for you. We are both right, can’t we all get along? Like he says in his post, the less you stand for, the more people will like you. I was even told once by someone professing to be a Christian that although they believe that Jesus is their answer to salvation (their truth), they believe that God might have provided alternate truths and who are we to condemn a whole group of people who might have another view of God or how to attain salvation. He believes that there might be alternate paths to Heaven! Now if that isn’t compromise, what is?
Again, my words aren’t scholarly. I wasn’t just taught these beliefs and now I’m just regurgitating what I’ve heard. The formation of what I believe and why I believe it is a process. I have gone from belief to unbelief and back to belief. I have seen physical evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen lives changed by Christ and their belief in His redemptive sacrifice. I have seen the miracle of the birth of my four daughters to my wife who we thought couldn’t conceive. I have been miraculously healed of a 20 year smoking addiction. One day, God just took the addiction away – I have no memory of what it is like to smoke. I know that God is real and I know that He wants to have a personal relationship with all of us. All we have to do is acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. We’re going to mess up – and because we can’t help ourselves, we aren’t worthy to enter into a relationship with God on our own. But God has provided us a way. Jesus said that He was the Truth and the Light. All who believe in Him will be saved. I believe that God, in His grace, sent His son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. He paid for our sin with his blood and because of this selfless act, we are assured a permanent residency in Heaven with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit where we will be able to ask Jesus Himself all of the mysteries that we can’t even hope to understand here on earth.
One last thing…to those planning on watching the Discover Channel’s program about the possibility of finding Jesus’ bones? It isn’t possible.
Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God where He will rule until He returns. I would give up my life defending that…. would you?
I almost ended it here but then I thought how appropriate the Nicene Creed was. Shouldn’t we all say a creed such as this everyday to affirm (at least to ourselves) what we believe? If you wish, you may want to read this out loud. Think about what is says as you read it.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.