Saturday, March 13, 2004

Sects Education

Hangin' ten on the web the other night looking for a Christianity Today article about Max Lucado, I found everything but. What I did happen upon was a reservoir vast in its vitriol and possibly hatred toward Max, Rubel Shelly, John York, even Royce Money - heresy makes for strange bedfellows, no? - dished out in heaping portions onto endless web pages by people I've never heard of implicitly declaring themselves defenders of the one true church. Makes for a rather pretentious business card.

This discovery came on the heels of an historic ACU Lectureship and my viewing of "The Passion of the Christ," both of which served to reinforce to me the centrality and singularity of Jesus. Thankfully, I had these Grand Pew-bahs to remind me it's not about Jesus at all; it's about preserving what's already been decided as the way things are done in church. Campbell saved future generations from eternal damnation by restoring the New Testament church...with the minor exception of those things which don't translate well to 19th century America. Holy kissing, deaconesses, et Alexander. And there's no need for us to reinvent what Campbell's already saved us from. Think of it as "once saved, always saved..." Just don't tell them that.

But a funny thing happened as I was saddling up my own high hermeneutic horse. A friend came to visit fired up about the most amazing week he'd ever experienced. His church in central Texas whose attendance only occasionally tops 300 baptized 60 people in one week - 60! - matching their total baptisms dating back to the Coolidge administration. And here's what's amazing. The doctrine didn't change. Nor did the worship style. Or the color of the bulletin. Instead, they got this crazy idea that their community of roughly 8,000 might need something - perhaps material, perhaps spiritual. So they asked. In person. They set off in pairs, knocking doors and offering Christ. And a frightening thing happened: people said yes. Now they face the always unwieldy proposition of assimiliating 60 unchurched and unschooled-in-Restoration-Movement-tradition babes into their previously-moribund body of 300. God bless them.

I hope I'm never guilty of the very thing of which I accuse the aforementioned attack dogs. I still believe we're not saved by being right. But if being right about not being saved by being right doesn't compel me to deliver Christ to my neighbor's doorstep, well that's just not right either.

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