Monday, September 10, 2012

I Wish I Knew

Yesterday at church we did a live text & email question/answer forum titled "I wish I knew." Our three pastors (Eric, Alex and yours truly) did 90-second interactions with a slew of questions from "Is suicide unforgivable?" to "Are there pets in heaven?" The varied questions from both services are available at LakeView's website,, under  the "Messages" tab.

The very first question dealt with the diversity of views among denominations.

Jesus implores us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matt 22:37). Thinking is a divinely-sanctioned activity to be encouraged, not avoided. And that means that as we interact with the text, we might come to different conclusions on certain things. That's OK.

It's also OK to have particular preferences on

  • style of music
  • frequency of communion (not to mention whether it should be the real stuff or grape juice or grape jelly)
  • choice of Bible translation
  • whether the minister should wear a robe (I had to borrow one a few years ago at an ecumenical Thanksgiving service but its owner was over 6 feet tall. As I walked down the aisle holding my skirts I felt like Galadriel in Lord of the Rings).
  • etc.
Such diversity is a good thing. But sometimes folks elevate personal or even denominational preferences to the level of biblical mandates.

I have found it helpful to distinguish between more and less important matters this way:
  • Is it a conviction to die for?
  • Is it an opinion to defend?
  • Is it a preference to discuss?
Thinking through the differences can make your life, your faith and your friendships a whole lot easier. There's a fairly small collection of things in the first category (convictions to die for): the deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, etc. So let's not make music or dress or the year of the communion port a litmus test of orthodoxy.

As Augustine said (although the quote has also been attributed to Fred and Bob):
In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.