I've been thinking a bit about division amongst christians lately. I don't mean things like petty squabbles over who's been promoted to head usher or when the sound guy refuses to turn up the keyboard.
No, I'm talking about doctrines and the attitudes we have when we disagree.
My first thought is that doctrines don't make a scrap of difference really. God couldn't care what doctrines we follow as they are all subjective understandings based on our own paradigms. They are just part of our journey and should really be constantly changing as we grow. For this, we extend unconditional grace. We can discuss, debate, challenge etc but we must respect each other. We must realise that each of our journeys is unique and God shows us stuff in his time and in his way
But then there are some pretty big issues that I have difficulty with. Issues that are so big that they affect the foundations of what we believe. They change the way we view God and his relationship with us and each other. They change the way we relate to the whole of humanity and creation. There are beliefs and doctrines that affect the very basis of our understanding of God's inherent nature - who He is, who we are, how he sees us, how we see each other.
The central beliefs that the church is now wrestling with, that are causing the greatest divisions are hypergrace and universalism. Some would say sexuality is also right up there, but its not a game changer, it doesn't alter the foundational character of God like the others.
These are the big doctrines that seriously divide the church, and we are going to have to make a decision sooner or later because they just aren't going away. They are just getting hotter!
Many christians are of the view that we must respect each other's journeys no matter what we believe and extend the unconditional love and grace to each other that we all so desperately need. There has to be love and compassion for each other as we discuss these things, or we are undoing any credibility we have for the very message we are supporting.
I agree! We must have that respect and love. But here is where it gets difficult. The two hot topics are complete game changers and those on both sides recognise this, creating a sense of urgency and passion that truth will prevail. To accept the new revelations of grace opens us up to the realisation that the traditional "gospel" the church has taught for so long is not only wrong, but seriously damaging.
Traditional christians often get upset about the intensity of the grace arguments, and indeed there are many "gracers" who love the new knowledge but haven't had their minds renewed by it, and come across quite arrogant. The traditionalists also get very hot under the collar about this "heresy" and become quite abusive.
I can't help but think that it will get worse. That those who are open to this grace message will see the incredible lies and deceit, the abuse and complete misrepresentation of God that has been perpetrated for so long. And those who hold the traditional views will equally vilify the grace view for its "unbiblical" heresies.
Personally, from the viewpoint of a "hypergracer", I can empathise with those who don't get where I'm at. I even empathise with the likes of Driscol and others who hide behind the safety of literalism and fundamentalism. I know what its like to think like that. But I will attack their message. I will attack the very foundations of all they stand for, as Luther did, without fear. I will continue to respect every individual's personal journey, but I will make the very clear distinction about their belief systems, challenge their paradigms, call the horrific heresy of legalistic religious fundamentalism for what it is. I will do all I can to break its hold on our hearts and minds, so that the fullness of God's true character, his unconditional love and grace for all mankind, can bust through the cracks and release true freedom for every person on this planet.
Extending love and respect for individuals doesn't mean I have to just smile and accept the status quo.