What are the implications of Christians disagreeing on Bible teachings?

Monday Musings for November 11, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

If you belong to a church — and if you believe everything exactly the same way that everyone else does — you might be in a cult.

“What!” you say. “I’m a Baptist! So — by definition — I can’t be in a cult!”

Yes, you can.

Here’s the thing: God does not want zombies (... even Baptist zombies) … and God does not want sycophants (... even Baptist sycophants). He wants disciples — and disciples do their own thinking.

Sure, disciples are still responsible to God’s word. And sure, disciples are still responsible to God’s Spirit. But discipleship implies growth… and growth implies movement — the kind of movement that tests where you stand on issues... and whether or not you test yourself is itself a test of spiritual growth!

But why should we test ourselves? Because we should all be moving away from beliefs that are imperfect toward beliefs that are less imperfect... and if your church is not on board with a person pursuing his or her personal growth, then it could indeed be a cult! It would just be a somewhat normal-looking cult.

However, if your church accommodates this type of growth, then you are in a healthy fellowship... but let’s not be naive: no matter what documents you signed when you joined your church, you do not believe the same as everyone else about everything. That would be horrible anyway. You’d be the Stepford Christians… smiling and nodding in agreement while going through the motions of a spiritual life.

But if you are in an organic fellowship — one that encourages you to be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s leading — then you are blessed. There you can discuss issues; you are free to grow personally; you are free to encourage others in their growth — and it is the death of a place when a collection of dusty documents thwarts that process.

Now, I get it that God has given us all a certain geography, a certain history and a certain time in history! And yes... we are responsible to that world. Yet we must always be faithful to the Scripture... and sometimes this involves changing some ancestral stands. After all, we are constantly receiving new data, and we should be getting more sophisticated in our thinking as we mature.

I get it, though. It’s nice to be among people who believe much the same things as we do — and I’m actually for that kind of coalescence! What I’m not for is drying in that position like a clay pot. Discipleship is the opposite of that; it’s about remaining workable... at least until we die.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8, NIV)

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