Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The case for rethinking what we thought we already knew.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. - 2 Timothy 1:13

Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our epistle. - 2 Thessalonians 2:15

The bible has much to say about the dangers of being led astray with new and false doctrines. And we should take these warnings very seriously, Paul warned that false teachings would lead people into bondage (Gal 2:4) and even worse, that some would depart from the faith entirely, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Tim 4:1). So it is no real surprise that people are extremely closed to hearing something outside of their own worldview which is contrary to what they already hold to be true. The extreme abuses of scripture within the prosperity movement and certain sections of the emergent church have only caused people to dig their heels in even further. Yet there is a fundamental flaw in the reasoning of those who claim that the current trend of “rethinking” is taboo. That flaw would be that those who hold fast to their beliefs assume that they already hold to the traditions and doctrines as they were originally given by the apostles.

No consideration is given to the fact that over the last 2000 years some things may have crept in that have gone largely unnoticed. It’s well documented that the role of the Bishop emerged into something other than initially intended shortly after the apostle Johns death but few have paused to consider the repercussions it has had on the biblical role of the bishop as well as the priesthood of all believers. Most people are aware of the influence Constantine had on the church in the 4th century but few have questioned whether political power was or ever is a good in the church or not. Most people are aware of the Protestant Reformation but few have considered the elements of the church which were left unreformed and where biblical practices were not recovered. The truth is that most of us were born into churches and raised on doctrines that sometimes were off the mark in certain areas. And to reach a point where we become unteachable because we believe ourselves to be totally biblical is truly tragic.

In my fundamentalist days I used to love associating myself with the Bereans mentioned in Acts chapter 17 who “searched the scriptures daily to see if it (what Paul preached) was so” (verse 11). In hindsight, I was more committed to defending my positions than I was to holding them up to biblical scrutiny. We should not be afraid to reexamine our beliefs. If something is true, it will hold true. And if it is false, by renouncing it and embracing something better we grow toward maturity. Certainly, when questioning something there is the danger that things could work the other way as well and we could end up trading the truth for a lie, so I would recommend studying prayerfully and humbly presenting all questions and findings before the local church for judgment. Question your motives and look at views both pro and against. Always check context and see if it fits in with what the bible says as a whole.

To those who dismiss the idea of rethinking what we already think to be true about God, Jesus, the Spirit, the bible, the church, atonement, the gospel, heaven and hell. I have to ask, what if the Reformers had never rethought salvation through the church? What if the Anabaptist's had not challenged us to rethink baptism? What if the church never rethought slavery which large parts of it vehemently defended for so long? What if the Pentecostals had not rethought the spiritual gifts? Certainly there is much out there that needs to be avoided. Personally, I am not at all interested in new doctrines, what I am deeply interested in though are the old and true doctrines that are new to me. Similarly, I am not interested in the emerging forms of church but what I am deeply interested in is the reemerging church, one that is willing to unlearn what needs to be unlearned, rediscover the doctrines and traditions of the early church as laid out in the epistles, a church that holds fast to that which is pure and has the power to once again turn the world upside down.

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