Sunday, August 20, 2006

DENOMINATIONS: WHO NEEDS THEM?

For about as long as I've been actively Christian, which is 42+/- years, I've heard denominations denigrated. More people that I can count have said "I'm (fill in the denomination) but I prefer to think of myself as a Christian." As if there's something wrong with being a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, AoG, etc.

And then when we get into serious discussion, people lament that there are so many denominational differences. Count me in on that, too, bigtime. Until I figured out that Christianity and God's work wasn't about me. Or about you, Brother or Sister in Christ. It's about hopeless, lost, mankind.

There's so much discussion now, and I enjoy chiming in, and the blogs get me to thinking when someone like Wade Burleson or Rick Thompson or Kevin Bussey (sorry, all the ones I didn't mention) tosses out a question about "Why Church Membership" or the "Definition of a Christ-Honoring, Theologically Conservative Evangelical". They make me think of the answer, and also about me in the process.

Painfully, at times.

We act as though God attaches some importance to the purity of our doctrine. NEWS FLASH: the best of us is way off. We see through a glass darkly, remember? How can we ever have perfect doctrinal positions, when that's the case?

Back to denominations. If all denominations were just like ours (or the one we were saved in), then mostly folks like us would get saved. And probably not many folks who don't like so much of this or that, or want more of something or other, than we.

Think about it: God's purpose is the redemption of lost mankind. Do you think He's going to toss out one kind of bait?

I think not. I think God is saying something like "You want happy clappy ... got it right here! ... You want introspection and intellectually oriented study, step this way! ... You like tradidional hymns and hymnals, have I got a spot for you!" Remember the premise of all this: It is GOD reaching out to us ... not us reaching out to him.

I am all for good doctrine. But the best I have isn't nearly good enough. Maybe it's enough for God to use ... or more correctly, maybe what I do know will make me willing to serve, so then God can reach down and do some things through me.

What I learned from Wade Burleson's blog was that someone can be a "Christ-Honoring, Theologically Conservative Evangelical" and still be a whole lot different from me. And there seem to be a lot of people who wouldn't cooperate with someone who fits the definition.

Our church started the Riverchase Baptist Church, about 20 years ago. I was involved to the extent that (a) The church started as a Sunday School Class within our church, which I taught, and (b) When the church became a mission, I went with them for a year and was their Deacon. Riverchase Baptist Church is now a fine strong Southern Baptist Church and have won a goodly number of people to Jesus.

They have women deacons. They used to have a woman as an Associate Pastor. What, am I supposed to be ashamed of that? Should I avoid fellowship with them or the folks they've won to Jesus? The plain fact is that the fairly Happy Clappy FBC of Pelham didn't attract the folks who live in the Riverchase (upscale) community. But Riverchase Baptist did. RIVERCHASE BAPTIST CHURCH ISN'T WINNING FOLKS IN THEIR COMMUNITY ... GOD IS.

ANOTHER NEWS FLASH: GOD USES FOLKS THAT DISAGREE WITH YOU, TO WIN PEOPLE TO HIMSELF!

I somehow get the feeling that God likes for us to discuss and argue our beliefs. I also get the idea that He is getting fed up with Christians criticizing other Christians.

Remember this: We are a body. The Bible plainly states that. And when one part of the body criticizes another (which is tantamount to rejection), then the same thing happens in the church, that happens in a body, when there is organ rejection. The whole body suffers. And, occasionally, dies.

Jesus isn't going to let HIS CHURCH die. Not even the gates of hell is going to do that.

Your church is another matter. And it may depend on you.

4 Comments:

At 6:46 AM, August 22, 2006, Blogger Scotte Hodel said...

The fish bait analogy is great! Thanks for a good post.

Scotte

 
At 7:34 AM, August 25, 2006, Anonymous SDuren said...

Bob,
Thanks so much for the reminder. This post was very timely indeed.

 
At 9:07 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Y'welcome, ma'am. It was prompted by all the posturing about how pure our doctrine was, or more correctly, how impure somebody else's was. It was also a prelim to the following post about Paul and being all things to all people.

 
At 7:39 PM, September 06, 2006, Blogger sage said...

good post Bob, and I like the way you ended it with our churches depending on us--to many people think they depend on someone else...

 

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