The Heartbeat

As I promised last week, this letter is about theological deviance, or what some might call heresy. If we are honest about it, we will admit that truth sits along a spectrum with truth on one end and heresy or falsehood on the other. And while we – like every other church (and every other religion on earth) – would like to suggest that we, more than any others, are on the end of truth, if we are honest and wise we will admit that we but hope we are on the end of truth. In some areas there is little question (God is; God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him; Jesus is God incarnate, the Savior of all who come to him and the Lord of all, whether they confess him or not); in other areas we are less certain (age of the earth; the mode of baptism; the timing of Christ's return). And since this is the case (that we are more certain about some things than others), I believe it behooves us to be bold and strong in regards to those things that we are most certain about, and far more careful, reserved, hesitant to speak about those areas that are in question.

Many years ago I went to hear a leader of the Mennonite church, Myron Augsburger, speak on such things. I am in no position to comment on his overall leadership within the Mennonites, but I do know that on the evening I heard him speak I thought he was excellent. He spoke on the difference between (theological) liberals and (theological) fundamentalists. He put it this way: "The liberals minor on the majors, while the fundamentalists major on the minors." His point was, of course, that both views are a distortion of what we should be doing, namely, "Majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors."

So you, Justin, need to have clear in your mind just what the majors are. I think we are helped along on this point by church history. For example, the church historically DID WRESTLE (and wrestle severely) over the question of the nature of Christ, concluding he was and is divine. They also wrestled over the question of the Holy Spirit, concluding, as time went on, that the Holy Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son. The church wrestled over the extent of the atonement, concluding that Arminius was wrong and that Christ's death procured nothing for the non-elect. These and other issues the church wrestled over. But it never wrestled over the age of the earth, whether all believers must or even should speak in tongues, or whether a rapture of the church will occur before or after a tribulation period. We may think we should wrestle over such issues but before we do…before YOU do…we should ask ourselves how it was/is that the church for some 2,000 years never thought these issues worth arguing about or making some decree about.

Stick with the major doctrines. Major on the majors and minor on the minors. Preach Christ and him crucified.

By His Grace,
Doug Winne

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