I must admit that I have struggled the past few years with the labels we have attached to our brethren within the church community. Liberal, conservative, progressive, right-wing; it sounds more like a political movement than a brotherhood of believers. I have also gone through phases of self-definition. For a while I jokingly told people that I am doctrinally conservative and socially liberal, but that too required that I define exactly what that meant. I finally settled on a simple way to describe myself to others – “I strive to be Biblical.” I believe the Bible is God-breathed and provides all things necessary for life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:3).
That position, though it may sound reasonable often leaves me feeling very alone in a fellowship that seems to be increasingly divided and I don’t think social media and the advent of rapid communication is helping. Today I read a blog post that made me very uncomfortable. It was a brother addressing a biblical matter that I hold very near and dear to my heart (church leadership). In my interpretation of his post, he was opening the flood gates to an ideology I find contradictory to my “Biblical” approach to my faith. It was that post that forced me to return to my Bible and my own belief system and ask, “How much is too much?”
Here is the problem (and I know it’s nothing new). I look in one direction and I see those who are drawing their lines of fellowship so tightly that the Pharisees would be viewed as dwelling in the progressive’s camp. If you disagree on which translation to study out of, or whether you can have life-group Bible studies in leu of Sunday evening services you are on the outside looking in. When I turn and look in the other direction, I see another segment of our fellowship who are moving wholesale into ecumenicalism. “We are a big tent church and everyone is welcome. We don’t have to agree on doctrine – any of it.”
So without making any concerted effort at including or excluding others I find my faith community shrinking. I have a growing respect for our brethren during the restoration era because they were seeking Biblical truth. One brother recently put it to me this way, “During the restoration era we had men of faith seeking truth, today we have men of truth seeking faith.”
Maybe I am just odd, but is it really that hard to just sit down with the scriptures and ask, “What did God say?” Maybe I am old school in the way I look at things, but I still believe the path to unity is found in the scriptures, not in blind acceptance of others, not through a “let’s all get along” philosophy, but through a deep desire to know God through his revealed word.
Sometimes I feel like a man without a country.