In a recent conversation with a church pastor, he said roughly – These are only minor points of theology. They don’t really matter. It is our community that matters. At the time he was commenting on one of the foundational points of the Doctrines of Grace but the issue would been the same if the comment referred to any other doctrinal point.
His point, as he proceeded to explain somewhat sadly, was that theology was divisive to Christian community and family. Doctrine was interesting, but not something to actual consider significant. We should not worry about such and just be a Christian community, concentrating upon community and family activities. Now I should that these activities do include worship, but only as a part of the community genre. He was saddened (which was the stimulus for the conversation) that members were not seeming to ‘get it’.
Since this conversation was on the phone and the rebuttal was not going to be quick or tidy, I let it lay for the moment. But is has left me shaking my head, not only for the pastor in question, but for the flock, many of whom I know are searching for defining doctrinal answers which they will only find in Christ.
There was not even a hint in the conversation or apparently in his thinking that some actual defining, Scritpural doctrine and a clear theology might be what was needed. I have to say that I find that incredible.
There seemed no recognition (or perhaps it would threaten the ‘community at all costs philosophy’) that the church must derive its core identity from correct doctrine, derived from Scripture. And that the community, family and other identities must flowing out from that central core. Purpose, as defined by God not man, must be the starting point. When that is not the case, the theology will always develop from the community values, in other words, as defined by man and not God. An identity defined by man is wrong and even with the best of intentions will always end up serving the world and not Christ (we can discuss the theology of that another time).
Interestingly, at the same time as the above scenario is playing out in his flock, he is disheartened that they are not really interested in Bible study or his preaching. He clearly does not see the conflicting message he is sending about what is central and what defines that church.
Moreover, those within the congregation who are actually driven by the Spirit to seek biblical truth and identity are drifting quietly away, left empty by a man-centered community with no biblical identity. Even if that community is centered upon things that are Christian in nature and do in fact accomplish good works, it is still not centered correctly upon the Lord.
A sad scenario in a time of worldly churches. The question is, what to do…