That which allures multitudes into it, and keeps them in it; the gate is wide, and the way broad, and there are many travellers in that way. First, “You will have abundance of liberty in that way; the gate is wide, and stands wide open to tempt those that go right on their way. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to your appetites, to your passions: you may walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; that gives room enough.’ ’ It is a broad way, for there is nothing to hedge in those that walk in it, but they wander endlessly; a broad way, for there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways, contrary to each other, but all paths in this broad way. Secondly, “You will have abundance of company in that way: many there be that go in at this gate, and walk in this way.’ ’ If we follow the multitude, it will be to do evil: if we go with the crowd, it will be the wrong way. It is natural for us to incline to go down the stream, and do as the most do; but it is too great a compliment, to be willing to be damned for company, and to go to hell with them, because they will not go to heaven with us: if many perish, we should be the more cautious.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Mt 7:12–14). Peabody: Hendrickson.
Elimination of the standards of sovereignty, patriarchy, chivalry, and biblical sexuality have defanged men. Defanged men have demoralized this nation and much of the Western world. Our opportunity for change is in the recovery of biblical manhood; not the type of showy, outdoorsy macho guy, but in leadership with conviction, courage and intelligence.
I’m also just plain tired of sissified men using liberal-beer-muscles to intimidate conservative thoughts and ideals. It’s high time we stood up for the conviction and courage that reformed worldly churches, started great nations, and proclaimed the gospel against all odds and threats.
Amidst the threats of political correctness, feminism, scientific ignorance, progressive liberalism, and biblical criticism, there are opportunities for men to stand out and stand up. These opportunities should be a rallying cry for unity among those of us with deep-seated convictions. Instead, they more often end up an ad-hominem-hate-fest for the progressive yet uninformed.
But I am also not a fool. The very nature of our plight is that it is reserved for the few and far between. This being the case, it would be paradoxical for us to find great numbers and great unity in a time and place where such things are only found sharing the prevailing worldly perspectives.
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” — Matthew 7:14 (ESV)
This, truth be told, is comforting to me, if only in the fact that my God and Savior, the Champion under whose banner I raise such a fuss, has providentially set these boundaries to be as they are.
So until glory, I shall soldier on and pray for the courage to keep my convictions. I shall endeavor to stand each time I fall, repent of my mistakes, and, with the immense grace God’s generosity allows, recall the convictions again and again, foolishly proclaiming the only thing I know as truth: the Word of my Lord.
I read this short account of a Christian who was driving through a rough neighborhood. As she passed a tattoo parlor, she saw EMTs and police around a heavily-tattooed man laying in the parking lot. It appeared they were administering CPR. She relates that several thoughts went through her head, which I’ll quickly paraphrase: Did he have a heart condition and forget his medication? Did he get sick from something? Was it a chronic illness? Was he shot (since it was a rough neighborhood where drive-by’s were known to happen)? The one last thought that went through her head was that perhaps he had overdosed on drugs.
She considered this last thought to be “uncharitable”.
At first, I found myself agreeing with her, but, as I thought about it, I changed my mind. Follow me on this, and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below: I really do want to get feedback on this one because it is part of a larger philosophy in my life.
Let’s lay down some definitions (thanks, postmodernity!):
Charity – kindness and tolerance in judging others. ARCHAIC: love of humankind, typically in a Christian context: faith, hope, and charity.
Naiveté – lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment
Plausibility – seeming reasonable or probable
What I would seek to show is that, as Christians, we often suffer from two problems: 1) A conflation of the modern definition of charity (tolerance and acceptance) and the archaic definition (Christian love for humankind); 2) A failure to recognize the difference between plausible judgment and self-righteousness.
A Christian love for humankind is demonstrated in the idea that we would want nothing more than for every person to have heard and understood the good news of the Gospel. That comes at a price, of course, in that we cannot know who will truly accept that message and who will reject it outright or over time (and who likes rejection, anyway?), but it is the most loving thing that we can possibly do for another person: share with them the gospel—even if they feel we are being intolerance and uncharitable (in the modern sense).
Now, without getting into the lengthy topic of “being the gospel” vs. “preaching the gospel” (which is a terrible category mistake at best), we should be aware that in our day-to-day actions, we seek to demonstrate the character of a Christian. This of course, thanks to postmodernity, is incredibly subjective, but I think most would agree that being a good citizen, being morally upright, and thinking about others before one’s self are, in general, acceptable pithy versions for the time being.
So let’s get back to the tattoo parlor. The original writer found out later through the news that the man was younger (in his twenties) and had not made it. This is tragic, of course. Any death is tragic, especially when we, as Christians, do not know the status of that person’s soul (inasmuch as it is possible). Did he get a chance to hear the gospel? Did he leave behind loved ones who now—more than ever—need that same gospel? These are VERY “charitable” questions—no matter what the man did or didn’t do, no matter what he believed or didn’t believe.
But were the initial assumptions “uncharitable”? Not at all! All of them (including the one the original writer labeled as “uncharitable”) were plausible. If this writer was an investigator with the police department, she would be considered a good detective if she came to plausible conclusions from deductive reasoning. She would be considered a bad detective if she came to naive conclusions without deductive reasoning.
It’s clear, from the first sentence, that our scene takes place in a “rough neighborhood”. This tells me she is discerning of her environment. She tells us the scene takes place in front of a tattoo parlor. Barring that tattoos have become more mainstream and prolific these days, is it really that odd of a conclusion that a tattooed person in front of a tattoo parlor in a rough neighborhood cannot be viewed in the same way as a young man with a toddler on his shoulders in a playground with his wife and a baby stroller? Do the two have stark differences? Of course!
It’s plausible, without any further data, to assume that the playground daddy is stable and innocent and that the tattooed repeat-customer is less-so. But do we know what the motives are? No. Do we know for sure that we are right? Of course not!. To be even more clear, the tattooed man could have been going to get the name of a former fling erased from a tattoo on his left arm so he could better honor his wife, he may have left behind three toddlers, he may have been an active deacon at his church, and he may have been a blood donor. Similarly, the alleged parent at the playground could have been abusing his children, having an adulterous relationship on the side, and jones-ing for another dose of his favorite prescription pill.
We could go on all day about how there are exceptions to all sorts of rules, but, without clairvoyance, we must go by what information is available to us.
It is plausible that he had an overdose based on his plethora of tattoos, his environment, and his age. Twenty-somethings don’t have heart-attacks regularly. Law-abiding citizens don’t usually like to loiter in rough neighborhoods (that’s why they are called “rough”). Twenty-something men don’t usually go for more tattoos after their full sleeves are done if they’re saving money for rent/mortgage, a car payment, their college debt or the future college debt of their children, insurance, etc. Does this make them prone to drug-use? It’s plausible. It would require more questions, more information. But it can’t have a strike through it just because it’s not very nice. In such polarization, we would have to choose to be either so naive that we were mugged every time we went to the city or so judgmental that we had to live alone and never see any people because they might be “bad”.
But that’s still not a question of “charity”. Real “charity” would be a Christian stopping to help a man who was laying on the side of a road *no matter what* he looked like. Real “charity” would be a Christian praying with that man, or speaking to him and telling him the Gospel. Of course, these aren’t possibilities with a man who has died—only prayer to God for mercy on the man and for peace for his family and friends is possible. But these are all “charity”.
(Also, as an aside, I am not condemning the original author—she seems to be a fine Christian woman. This is merely a rabbit trail on which I decided to venture for my own strange reasons).
What’s uncharitable, then? Uncharitable would be passing by the same scene and saying to yourself, “He probably deserved it.” What? Death? Did he? Don’t you? Does he deserve it more than you? That is uncharitable. Or, if he was injured and you could be the one to stop, deciding not to stop because you didn’t think he deserved it. That’s also uncharitable (un-Christian-like, too).
I would even go so far as to say that if I, as a parent, had my children with me, there would be some limitation to the amount of help I would physically offer to a troubled or injured stranger—primarily for the safety of my children. An unknown is just that: unknown. Yes, the man might be a wonderful, innocent person. He may also be running from police, desperate, and willing to kill to escape justice (we could play this game all day). Since I can’t know that, it is my job to make plausible conclusions from the information available for the sake of my family. My naiveté would not just affect me—it would affect those for whom I am responsible, and that raises the stakes.
So is it a lack of charity to pontificate on plausible reasons for the man’s death? No. It is simply deductive reasoning… until it crosses the line into maligning the true Christian charity that we are too offer. After all, if he did die of a drug overdose, did that somehow make him more or less qualified for God’s grace—for hearing the good news? Not at all.
On that playing field, we are all equals.
Share your thoughts below. I am not an island of thought, here, and I’m interested in what you think!
This country was founded and can only be kept by remaining a Republic.
Here are some quotes from founding fathers, leaders, and analysts throughout the centuries of America’s past about democracy.
“[This Constitutional Convention meets] to provide a cure for the evils under which the UNited States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of democracy…” – Edmund Randolph, 1787
“The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want (that is, do not lack) virtue; but are the dupes of pretended patriots.” – Elbridge Gerry, 1787
“It had been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” – Alexander Hamilton, 1788
“We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” – Alexander Hamilton
“Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself! There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – Samuel Adams
“[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” – James Madison
“[I am dedicating myself to] the preservation of the republican model of government.” – George Washington, at his first, inaugural address
“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.” – John Marshall, Supreme Court Justice, 1801-1835
“I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty of civilization, or both.” – Thomas Babington Macaulay
“If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete.” – Benjamin Disraeli, 1850
“The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians” – Benjamin Disraeli, 1850
“Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.” – James Russell Lowell
“Democracies are prone to war, and war consumes them.” – W.H. Seward
“Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” – Oscare Wilde
“The most popular man under a democracy is not the most democratic man, but the most despotic man. The common folk delight in the exactions of such a man. They like him to boss them. Their natural gait is the goosestep.” – H.L. Mencken
“Democracy, which began by liberating men politically, has developed a dangerous tendency to enslave him through the tyranny of majorities and the deadly power of their opinion.” – Ludwig Lewisohn
“If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event will arise from the unlimited turanny of the majority.” - Alex de Tocqueville
Many have said we are not to judge another’s salvation. Whilst I believe we cannot know who is or is not elect (which is a two-dimensional condition: one dimension in who and one dimension in when), I believe we can certainly exercise some judgment as to the likely condition of an individual for a given period of time.
That is not to say that at 3pm on Saturday if Johnny is sinning, he must not be saved. We all sin incidentally (there is no escaping this, and it is shown in Scripture clearly and plainly), so this is not the teaching to be inferred. However, there can be an elongated period of time to provide an analysis.
I would warn myself and anyone else that to come to an absolute conclusion is probably more dangerous than we should allow, but such a gauge would be, as far as I can tell, a good gauge for warning a professing Christian when he is suspected of acting the part of a reprobate. After all: is this not the job of the elders of the church, as well, when such a person is committed to a fellowship of believers?
As such, I offer the following verses, whose meaning I would ask that we all seriously consider. First, to judge ourselves (“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV), and second, to judge those that would be around us and professing the same Christianity.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:1-6 ESV)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10 ESV)
Would you agree that these verses give some license to make such judgments? Or would you disagree, and why?
It seems the following actions now constitute “negativity” in our culture.
- Staying on topic
- Having supporting evidence for an opinion
- Clearly interpreting Scripture (culturally, historically, grammatically)
- The use of logic
- Appealing to primary sources when secondary sources are wrong
- Opposing the popular party line
- Opposing anything at all
- Concluding something from a person’s actions, words, and history
- Reading historical accounts with a different view than the party line
- The bible
- Christ of the bible (as opposed to the false, Hippie Jesus society has rallied behind)
- Trinitarianism—especially clearly defined and supported biblically
- Consistency in beliefs
- Criticism (even when constructive)
- Exclusive claims (John 14:6)
- Reading what people write instead of reading their (alleged) thoughts
- Writing instead of “talking it out” (and when that fails, phone calls are more negative than meeting in person)
- Disagreeing with someone
- Calling out errors (in any manner, on any subject)
- Calling sin “sin”
- Failing to acknowledge another belief as “possibly” true
- Absolute truth
- Carefully denoting similar (but still different) opinions
I’m sure there are more, but this is my present realization.
I thought you should know, just in case you were interested in having a deep conversation about… well, anything at all with anyone at all.
I know there’s probably nothing I can say that would make you feel differently about me. We have parted ways not only in where we live, but also in how we think.
I surmise from what I have read about my “judging people” and “legalism” that I should issue some sort of public apology for my statements, accusations, and theological discourses.
To ask me to apologize for the specific things I have written thus far is tantamount to asking me to deny my understanding of Scripture, to deny plain facts, and to refuse to reconcile reality and life with the convictions and passion I have. In essence, it would be the greatest act of treason and hypocrisy on my own conscience that I could perform.
That being said, I am not a perfect person. I have sinned as much as (or more than) the next man. I have found myself incapable of loving Christ at all times and with all of my heart, mind and strength. I have failed Him in many other ways, many times, and will continue to do so until I am dead. It is likely that in the countless ways to decide how to say things, I have failed to choose the optimal way to do so. Please understand that I try desperately to find some way to say some of the most uncomfortable things, and it does not bring me some sort of sadistic joy to flame someone for their mistakes or our differences of opinion.
The problem I face is that there are no examples in my friends or family of how to address an uncomfortable issue. There is only passivity, apathy, or (worst of all) shunning. Rarely have I encountered a person among my circle of friends or family that has been able to truly say what they think or feel—unless it was in a vitriolic retort towards me. Believe it or not, those moments are the only moments wherein I get to hear the “real” story from the offended.
But why must it wait until that moment? Why can’t conversations be more serious, more rich, more deep, and more important? I don’t want to talk about the weather, a sport, my job, or even the trappings of my own farming ventures for the rest of my known life. Those things are good warm-up subjects, but I want to talk about eternal consequences. I want to talk about what it means to really believe the bible. I want to talk about how life is different once we become Christians, and what is and is no longer acceptable in our lifestyle—even if we’re all discovering it as we go.
Instead, I am shunned. Unfriended. Insulted. Reprimanded. Scolded with misinterpretations of biblical texts.
Are you as tired as I am of this? Frankly, I’m surprised you’ve read this far. It seems like if we have more than a quip or bulleted set of one-liners, people don’t listen anymore.
If there is something you have to say, please say it. I despise hearing it through some other means, or hearing nothing at all. I tire of the apathy, too: the feeling that “anything goes”, and if someone points out that one of the “anythings” is antithetical to Christianity, the person is “judging” and automatically evil. Think a little bit more than just misquoting Matthew 7:1-2. Read the rest of the chapter, or the book, or even the bible. Read some commentaries. Figure out when to judge (commanded by Christ) and when not to judge (also commanded by Christ), and why Jesus says what he says, when He says it. Actually listen to and obey all of what He says—not just the parts that fit into your agenda of justifying your sinful lifestyle and behavior. And yes, I am still confronted with my own sinful shortcomings every day as I grow in my understanding of God’s holiness.
Find out for your own, grown-up self what this stuff all means and decide whether you really want to be a Christian or if you’re just full of the same mass of defecation that I was when I was claiming that my lifestyle was “Christian”. Maybe you’re not full of it—maybe that was just me. Can it hurt to honestly ask yourself the question?
If you don’t want to talk to me or have anything to do with me, that’s fine. But do so because you can think and read and understand and then disagree—having different, meaningful answers to the same questions. At least give yourself the dignity to defend what you believe and why you believe it. Otherwise, what are you? Just along for the ride? That can come to only one end—hell. And then your years on a planet doing whatever you wanted will seem quite silly, indeed.
This is an excerpt from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, Chapter XXII.
I share this with you because it shows a number of things of value to me:
- The letter is extremely well-written (as contrasted to letters, emails, and other communications we see today)
- The letter from a Christian father to his son is imploring him to come to faith in Christ—and is in no way subtle about it
- Timothy is 14-years-old, traveling, and is certainly able to understand and respond in-kind to such a letter, as an adult (again, contrasted to almost any 14-year-old you or I might now today)
- Jonathan Edwards does not spend time in this—possibly last—communication in order to ask his son how his travels have been or to find out what Timothy’s job is like or to ask if he’s met a girl, etc.; instead, Mr. Edwards is insistently hastening his son to receive the faith in Christ that he values above all things
The first paragraph is a brief description of the setting of Jonathan Edwards’ letter to his son, Timothy Edwards.
Early in the ensuing spring, the eldest son of Mr. Edwards, then a lad of fourteen, went to New York, and thence to New Jersey; and on his way was much exposed to the small-pox. On his return to New York, he was seized with a violent fever His father hearing this, and not knowing whether it an ordinary fever, or the small-pox, addressed to him the following letter; which, like all his letters to his children, indicates that his chief anxiety was for their salvation.
To Master Timothy Edwards, at New York.
Stockbridge, April, 1753
My dear child,
Before you will receive this letter, the matter will doubtless be determined, as to your having the small-pox. You will either be sick with that distemper, or will be past danger of having it, from any infection taken in your voyage. But whether you are sick or well, like to die or like to live, I hope you are earnestly seeking your salvation. I am sure there is a great deal of reason it should be so, considering the warnings you have had in word and in providence. That which you met with, in your passage from New York to Newark, which was the occasion of your fever, was indeed a remarkable warning, a dispensation full of instruction, and a very loud call of God to you, to make haste, and not to delay in the great business of religion. If you now have that distemper, which you have been threatened with, you are separated from your earthly friends, as none of them can come to see you; and if you should die of it, you have already taken a final and everlasting leave of them while you are yet alive, so as not to have the comfort of their presence and immediate care, and never to see them again in the land of the living. And if you have escaped that distemper, it is by a remarkable providence that you are preserved. And your having been so exposed to it, must certainly be a loud call of God, not to trust in earthly friends or any thing here below. Young persons are very apt to trust in parents and friends when they think of being on a death-bed. But this providence remarkably teaches you the need of a better Friend, and a better Parent, than earthly parents are; one who is every where present, and all sufficient, that cannot be kept off by infectious distempers, who is able to save from death, or to make happy in death, to save from eternal misery, and to bestow eternal life. It is indeed comfortable, when one is in great pain, and languishing under sore sickness, to have the presence, and kind care, of near and dear earthly friends; but this is a very small thing, in comparison of what it is, to have the presence of a heavenly Father, and a compassionate and almighty Redeemer. In God’s favour is life, and his loving-kindness is better than life. Whether you are in sickness or health, you infinitely need this. But you must know, however great need you stand in of it, you do not deserve it: neither is God the more obliged to bestow it upon you, for your standing in need of it, your earnest desiring of it, your crying to him constantly for it from fear of misery, and taking much pains. Till you have savingly believed in Christ, all your desires, and pains, and prayers lay God under no obligation; and, if they were ten thousand times as great as they are, you must still know, that you would be in the hands of a sovereign God, who hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. Indeed, God often hears the poor miserable cries of sinful vile creatures, who have no manner of true regard to Him in their hearts; for he is a God of infinite mercy, and he delights to show mercy for his Son’s sake, who is worthy, though you are unworthy, who came to save the sinful and the miserable, yea, some of the chief of sinners. Therefore, there is your only hope, and in him must be your refuge, who invites you to come to him, and says, ‘Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.’ Whatever your circumstances are, it is your duty not to despair, but to hope in infinite mercy, through a Redeemer. For God makes it your duty to pray to him for mercy; which would not be your duty, if it was allowable for you to despair. We are expressly commanded to call upon God in the day of trouble, and when we are afflicted, then to pray. But, if I hear that you have escaped,—either that you have not been sick, or are restored,—though I shall rejoice, and have great cause of thankfulness, yet I shall be concerned for you. If your escape should be followed with carelessness and security, and forgetting the remarkable warning you have had, and God’s great mercy in your deliverance, it would in some respects be more awful than sore sickness It would be very provoking to God, and would probably issue in an increasing hardness of heart; and, it may be, divine vengeance may soon overtake you. I have known various instances of persons being remarkably warned, in providence, by being brought into very dangerous circumstances, and escaping, and afterwards death has soon followed in another way. I earnestly desire, that God would make you wise to salvation, and that he would be merciful and gracious to you in every respect, according as he knows your circumstances require. And this is the daily prayer of
Your affectionate and tender father,
P.S. Your mother and all the family send their love to you, as being tenderly concerned for you.
I read a great article the other day by Kevin DeYoung. Pastor DeYoung uses the oft-quoted, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” At the start of the article, however, he points out the biggest difficulty with this quote: what, exactly, are the essentials?
I’ll let Pastor DeYoung (a much more prolific author and smarter man than I) speak for that deep and important topic. As for me, I’ll stick to a tiny part of what he mentioned that I thought deserved some special attention.
Pastor DeYoung talks briefly about theologies that can be classified as launching theologies or landing theologies:
Some doctrines represent different conclusions reached from basically the same premises. Other doctrines are starting points that set us on a wildly different trajectory. For example, the difference between postmillennialism and amillennialism is not a difference over first things. The two sides simply disagree how best to interpret a few disputed texts. It’s a matter of landing theology. By contrast, the doctrine of Scripture (to give one example) is about launching theology. If we get that doctrine wrong, we are bound to mess up everything else.
These definitions provide a great framework for measuring nearly any doctrine. So often, we find ourselves disagreeing with another person, and, inevitably, someone will use the aforementioned quote. This is wonderfully true, but if we’re talking about disagreeing on a launching theology, my fear (and the reality) is that everything in our practices will be askew based on that launching theology. Moreover, it is highly likely that the practices will not be the only things affected—instead, most of the other doctrines to which we hold will be forced onto the grid of our launching theologies, thus skewing both our practices and our dogma well outside of the “agree-to-disagree” realm.
I highlight this because it’s always been difficult when talking to another Christian—a person who I would, based on profession and outworking of that profession, believe to be a true convert—to determine where the line of “essentials” really ends. Because the two categories force a sort of pre-game analysis, it seems to be to make such lines much easier to delineate.
For instance, I have spoken with a social media acquaintance numerous times about numerous Christian issues. She and I disagree on the topic of cessation of the signs-and-wonders gifts. Her determination for this uses the same Scriptural premise as mine, but she comes to a different conclusion—almost the precise definition of a landing theology. In this case, I feel entirely safe calling our disagreement a charitable disagreement because even though I feel she’s made a wrong conclusion (compared to mine), I do not view it as an essential.
On the other hand, there are several people with whom I find myself disagreeing who call themselves Christians. When pushed in even the slightest fashion, almost all of our issues stem from one or more of the following: a completely different definition of the purpose of church, a completely different view of the sufficiency of Scripture, a completely different inventory for what we consider the Gospel, and a completely different definition of discipleship. Yes, we might affirm the Apostle’s Creed together, but these other issues are massive issues, and the are much more in line with the definition of a launching theology.
After all, if your view of church, discipleship, the Gospel, and Scripture is different from mine, virtually all other aspects of Christian life will be different.
Pastor DeYoung’s definitions have been helpful in these last few days as I ponder the crucial differences between Reformed theology and some of the more modern “philosophies” that are argued by many modern (and usually non-denominational) evangelical pastors.
Just figured I’d share. :)