Monday, May 20, 2013

“How can Christians of differing theological viewpoints cooperate?”

Recently, I was accepted into a Reformed seminary. God has blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to learn and to grow. And I can't wait. The seminary required me to write two essays, and I'm sharing one of them with you. It isn't likely that I will be blogging again in the near future- I'm sure most of you guessed that by my prolonged absence. In the end, I hope this post will be edifying to you and a satisfying conclusion to my blog.
Picture Credit: Google Image Search

In every Christian, there is a mixture of truth and error; no man holds the “corner on the truth market.” In Proverbs 27:17, God declares to His people, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Discussing theology with other Christians can clarify one’s own position, push one to better understand the scriptures, and demonstrate one’s error that was previously unseen. Living along side other Christians and discerning their theology in their lives forges a stronger theology in our own lives. We can learn from their strengths and weaknesses, as they can learn from ours. If not for these experiences, our iron would not be sharpened; we would remain dull indeed.

As Christians, when we deal with one another, it must be out of humility and kindness. Firstly, we must recognize that we did not come to the faith out of our own intelligence; we did not reason ourselves into the faith. Faith only comes from God as a gift. Therefore, any theological conviction, while it may be held firmly, should also be held graciously. We should not despise our brothers for their lack of knowledge or puff ourselves up for what God Himself has revealed. In our conversations with unbelievers, it is often said that we should not add offense to the gospel for it is offensive enough. How much more should we display that restraint with our brothers!

Secondly, the fruit of the Spirit is not a personal preference. In our actions and reactions, the glory of God should govern us. The apostle Paul, in Romans 8, announces that God predestined believers “to become conformed to the image of His Son.” All of our thoughts, words, and actions are to be conformed to the image of Christ – even to the point of lowering ourselves. In Philippians 2, Paul charges believers to “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Following the example of our Savior, we must empty ourselves and must, as Paul directs further in Philippians 2, “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than [ourselves].” Therefore, in obedience to God, we must “love our neighbor as [ourselves]” (Mark 12:31). This love of neighbor will be evidenced in the kindness we give to our fellow believers in our conversation and fellowship. A mutual dying-to-self will take place in the midst of this cooperation.

However, cooperation must not end in the compromise of truth. We should not cooperate for cooperation’s sake. The truth should not be sacrificed on the altar of unity. In Matthew 28:19 & 20, Jesus commands the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." Furthermore, the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in question three, “What do the scriptures principally teach?” It answers, “The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” In short, doctrine is important. Our theology is not a trifle to be ignored or swept under the rug. Making an idol of cooperation will not sharpen anyone’s iron. Instead it will curse those who hope in it.

In this matter, as in many others, there is a Biblical tension. We must cling to the truth as it has been revealed in the scripture. It must be our source of theology and doctrine. And, it must be our guide in cooperation with our fellow believers. If we are kind and humble, our discussions with our Christian brothers can be a great blessing; our lives can demonstrate the power of God to one another. True, godly cooperation can result in growth in grace and in faith. And that is a goal for which is worth striving.

*All scripture references come from the New American Standard Version.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Booklist: July 2012

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Psalter: The Only Hymnal? by Iain H. Murray
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Hmm. What can I say about the books I read in July? Well, suffice it to say that while dystopia-themed novels may be popular teen lit right now, it appears that most of them are poorly-written trash. Delirium is one such example. In spite of all the garbage in the dystopian genre, I keep hoping for another gem. Another Hunger Games or Divergent. But alas, with odd, mutated Bible stories, Oliver's novel was not to be that gem. While Oliver may have been a disappointment, Murray was not. His essay on required song in worship is excellent. I highly recommend it for anyone who desires to understand that hymns are to be sung. Back in the realm of fiction, I finally finished Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.  I've wanted to read it for years because it so poignantly describes the sixties mentality. For that reason alone it should be approached with caution - prevalent cursing and innuendo are other concerns. While Salinger certainly did provide moments of amusement (sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarity), his character Holden Caulfield is not someone with whom I would choose to keep company often.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bookshelves

Some dear friends moved away this week. I'll miss them. Unfortunately, being several states away means I won't see them very often. Before they left, in their typical generous fashion, they gave me two bookshelves. This girl couldn't have been more excited.
What a chance to organize! Homeschooling, history, theology, economics, law, further education, and fiction are all grouped by topic. Whew!
Of course, George likes being able to reach the top of my desk more easily. There are priorities.
DVDs too. All neatly shelved and together. It makes my eyes happy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beach Trip: Reads

What do five girls do at the beach? Good question. I'm so glad you asked. But you do know that those five girls includes me, right?
Yeah. I thought so. We read. (And other activities, I promise those of you who are already worrying about my sanity.)
This year, the Lord providentially sent a tropical storm down (er, up?) the coast. Lots and lots of rain. Perfect weather for reading. Not perfect weather for visiting the beach. So, this particular day was mostly spent inside curled up with various read materials and lots of good conversation.
Recognize that book? See my May Booklist.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

For my fellow Whovians:
"Tracked you down with this. This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes 'ding' when there's stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I've learned to stay away from hens. It's not pretty when they blow." ~The Doctor

Picture Credit: Google Image Search