Just 5 Words
A New Doctrinal Statement
I received an e-mail yesterday from a friend. In it, this lady wrote: “It would appear that we should only tell people the things that are true, and that we be able to show people in the word of God where that comes from.” After sending her an initial response, I felt like I wanted to say a little more. Here is what I wrote.
I was re-reading your e-mail this morning and I thought of another example regarding your premise --- "shouldn't we only teach the truth based upon the Word." You and I both know that within the fundamental Christian world, we have many people who believe that once you are saved, you cannot lose that salvation. We also know that there are many within that same world who believe that even if you are saved, you can "backslide" and lose your salvation. Actually I believe both groups are right and at the same time wrong because I think they have a flawed view of salvation, but let's make it black and white. Let’s assume that one of those groups is wrong and the other right. Now we have a dilemma. If we should only teach the "truth" based upon the Word of God, then one of those groups shouldn't be teaching their view because it is wrong and therefore can't be supported by the Bible, especially when one views the Bible as fundamentalists do. Of course, we are going to end up at an impasse because each side is going to claim that they are the group with the truth.
You then wrote: "There is much confusion out there."
You got that right for sure! We don't have to leave the fundamental Christian and messianic worlds to see it. We already mentioned the “can't lose/can lose your salvation” issue but we could add several more. Which day is the Sabbath? What holy days should we celebrate? Is baptism absolutely necessary for salvation or is it not? Are women restricted to certain roles in the church? Should they have their heads covered or not? Should men have beards? Should we wear tzitzit or not and if so is it okay for women to wear them? Can Christians get divorced and once divorced can they remarry? Should we celebrate communion and if so, when and who can partake? Is tithing a requirement? Should believers speak in tongues or not? Are the gifts of the Spirit for today or did they pass away in the first century? Is there a rapture or not? Is Jesus returning at the beginning of the tribulation, in the middle of it or at the end of it? Is he coming back at the beginning of the millennium, at the end of the millennium or is the millennium simply an allegory? Are we in the biblical end times or did they occur around 70 A.D.? Is there really an anti-Christ coming on the scene? What is the mark of the beast and does it apply to us now? What happens to us when we die? Are we conscious and with Jesus or are we in some kind of unconscious "sleep" until a later resurrection? What happens to people who have never heard the gospel as fundamental Christianity defines the gospel? Is the Godhead made up of a trinity or not? And on and on and on..... and these are just a few of the doctrines that are debated within the fundamental Christian and messianic worlds. I am sure we could find a hundred more.
And yet, virtually everyone within the fundamental Christian and messianic world is convinced that what they believe is indeed the absolute truth. And if you doubt them, they will prove it to you from the Bible. Just one problem, we can line up another group of fundamental Christians or Messianic believers who will use the Bible to prove the exact opposite belief.
It is the "truth" of this doctrinal nightmare that has me convinced that trying to experience God and authentic spirituality based upon some set of doctrines is virtually impossible, especially when one considers the types of doctrines that fundamental Christianity etc. creates and adheres to. Some people won't like the fact that I have included "mindfulness teachings" from Buddhism and a Native Indian version of the 10 commandments on our web site. Actually I intend to post more and more things of similar nature. If we really wanted a "doctrinal statement" that made sense, perhaps we ought to consider one that resembles the mindfulness teachings. They are virtually all focused on relationships and being blunt, this is more and more what I believe Jesus focused on and saw as important. I don't think Jesus cares two hoots about doctrinal statements etc. such as are the norm within fundamental Christianity. Here is Jesus’ "doctrinal statement" as far as I can see -- Love God and love others! For the most part, I have a feeling he would take all of those questions I included above and that Christians debate repeatedly and actually separate over and toss them all in the garbage. I can very easily imagine him looking at us and asking "What in the world are you doing? How could you get so focused on such ridiculous topics? Where do you find any of that in my teachings?" Putting it another way and quoting him --- "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Matthew 23:23
If we realize that this judgment Jesus mentions isn't something that God takes care of but something we are to be doing we will realize that this isn't about some unbiblical concept such as who goes to hell and who doesn't but is instead about justice in this world. It is making sure that social injustices are rectified, that the less fortunate are taken care of, that economically and judicially people are treated fairly and equally and so on. Most fundamental Christian doctrinal statements have little if anything toÂ say about "justice, mercy and faith," if we truly understand those words. Perhaps it is time to rethink our priorities even when it comes to establishing doctrinal statements of belief. Wouldn't it be amazing how many people would be welcomed, that we currently exclude from our faith communities, if we adopted a much different doctrinal statement, if we adopted something as simple and yet profound as "Love God and Love Others?"
That is a doctrinal statement that we all could live with.
Blessings, shalom, namaste