Thursday, August 13, 2009
Do You Have a Doctrinal Crisis?
I misplaced this in my documents, took out a couple of days for painting, yard clean-up, and the like. Now that I‘ve found it I’m anxious to see what John suggests in (what he describes as) “A DOCTRINAL CRISIS.” His paragraph consists of 4 statements as follows (italicized for emphasis).
(1) Every Congregation needs to be reminded frequently about the basics of the New Testament Evangel.
(2) Today due to a soft-sell seeker friendly approach to Church growth, much is being taken for granted regarding the essentials of Christian Belief and the Experience of Salvation.
(3) Seldom in Worship, during Prayer, Praise or Preaching, do we hear references to Sin, the Cross, Repentance and Conversion. One reason why most Christians rarely witness to others is because the Lord Jesus is not the main focus of attention in the local Church where they attend.
(4)This is no doubt one of the reasons why surveys have revealed that many who profess to be born again also say they believe that Jesus is not necessarily the only way to heaven. This mindset in turn opens the door to doctrinal pluralism and effectively denies His Lordship.
What do I think, John … wow! There’s a lot of weighty stuff here! First, I cannot dispute that first statement. Any congregation that wants to be a truly New Testament Church must be grounded in the Scriptures. I admire John Wesley who strived to be a man of the Book. I have often wished I had spent more time in Scripture and less in non-scriptural studies, while in the active pastorate. Most denominations (including the Church of God) consistently fail here; it seems to be in the cultural air we breathe.
I am not much for beating up on Church Growth People, for numbers are important in God‘s scheme of things). Seeker friendly services are essential to the mission of the church. On the other hand, I note that Willow Creek now admits some failure here and is revamping their curriculum to correct their failure to sufficiently develop adequate discipleship.
I find this thought especially interesting: One reason why most Christians rarely witness to others is because the Lord Jesus is not the main focus of attention in the local Church where they attend. If john is correct, then what is our main focus upon? Other than the Lord Jesus Christ?
Unfortunately, I can think of lots of answers to that . . .In bygone days when I kept stats, it took 38 Church of God Christians to make 1 convert; today I’m sure that number is even higher and probably needs to be repented of.
John suggests a lack of preaching about Sin, the Cross, Repentance and Conversion. I’m bothered by much of the therapeutic preaching, problem solving, and sermons. I especially agree about the lack of “sin” preaching, but revivalism isn’t neither the necessary or the only viable method of evangelism. Growing churches come out of growing relationships. The church I attend has grown from 100 to 500 and the primary reason if friendship evangelism, one friend bringing another. I do, however, believe we need more preaching on the subjects John mentions.
As to the 4th point, I guess I would have to admit that I believe that anyone who finds Jesus is only one of several ways to heaven--as opposed to be THE WAY--such a person has only learned “about” Jesus and has never been experienced His transformation. There is a difference, which many in this age of relative truth have not yet discerned.
I do believe there can be doctrinal pluralism. I believe in congregational polity, but not everyone does. I am not a pre-millennialist, but I do not de-Christianize the person that is, although I believe it is badly flawed theology. Either Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE, or he is the biggest SCAM ARTIST of all history. He is one or the other but cannot be both.
The thread of doctrine runs through John’s paragraph--system of teaching. My conclusion is that you cannot build a house that will amount to anything without having both a firm foundation and a solid framework of belief around which to build it.
From Warner’s World, there could be a lot of churches out there with a doctrinal crisis; I only hope your's is not one of them,
Wayne . . .