I grew up hearing and believing one explanation of “the good old fashioned gospel.” And, in truth, I hold a rock solid position that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life.
I am also so thankful to have been able to “join the conversation” with men and women of faith that have enlarged the “faith conversation.”
What Conversations Have I Paid Attention To?
“Emergent/Progressives: like Brian McLaren, Robb Bell, N.T, Wright, and Gregory Boyd to name a few. I am also thankful for my heritage of those from the “Faith and Prosperity Camp like Kenneth Hagin, Joyce Myers, Marylin Hickey, and Kenneth Copeland.
Then let’s add the “Prophetic/Revival Culture” of Bill Johnson and company. And, let’s not forget the “Purpose Driven” folks like Rick Warren. And just for good measure, I’ve learned some great perspectives on faith from several Catholic brothers and sisters.
I’ve Gone “Liberal” and Probably Never Was a True Christian to Begin With.
The Good Old Fashioned Gospel
That’s what my “good old fashioned fundamentalist gospel preachers” would say. That I’ve gone liberal and probably never was a true Christian to begin with. To them, I’ve compromised the message of Jesus.
Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross because all men are under the wrath of God until they turn away from their sinful ways and accept Jesus, lest they die and spend an eternity in hell. “If that isn’t the heart of your message”, they say, “you’ve compromised the Gospel.”
I almost wrote here than I’ve been converted from that “good old fashioned gospel” message. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I still believe the essence of man’s need of a Savior. Jesus and what He did is that Salvation. An Important part. Vital. But only part.
Not Inaccurate But Oh So Incomplete
I began listening to the “Emergent” folks because, as they said, it wasn’t a movement. It was “a conversation.” And, I welcomed times of challenge to my thinking. Perhaps I would have been satisfied to stay with the “Good old fashioned gospel camp” if they’d been willing to have a conversation. But, they weren’t. Any time I’d try….they’d go all glassy eyed and call men like McClaren and Bell, “serpents in the grass.”
Some of them would give me, personally, a right to look into their teachings. If. It was to learn how to refute them. Really? I see.
I remember when Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins” came out. The thing that actually motivated me to read it was the utterly unfair criticisms being levied by people who hadn’t even read the book themselves. They were simply going on what their favorite critics were saying Bell was saying, and passing it on like a personally read, pondered, and prayed through response.
So, I thought…Okay…at least If this Bell guy is so far off, I want to see why for myself. So, I read it. (To tell the truth, it took me awhile to admit to having read it around some of my friends) What I found. Rob Bell was asking legitimate questions. He was not making absolute statements. Those questions deserved some open hearted pondering. He was not trying to corrupt the minds and faith of the innocent, naive, baby christian! Sheeesh!
Then I’d try to explain what I thought “prosperity guys” were saying, and…CONVERSATION OVER. “Kenneth Copeland is on his way to hell, and he’s leading millions there with him.” Then I would be pointed to internet web sites of critics that would damn anyone that even sniffed of a “prosperity” aroma.
Problem was, these snippets would be loaded with out of context quotes! I, myself, didn’t and don’t agree with the emphasis of some of the things these folks teach…but, come on! Let’s have just a smidgen of integrity here. Let’s deal with real issues IN CONTEXT.
Did You Know That Jesus Taught Reincarnation?
HERE’S THE PROOF> “And Jesus said to Nicodemus, you must be born again…”
Well, obviously – in context – that is not what Jesus was saying at all. Thing is, you can prove anything with pieces of bible verses…or even whole passages…out of context.
So, What’s the Point of My Rant?
We must learn to listen to each other. We must have conversations. We must not be afraid to “test our truth.” We must not be so freaking arrogant with closed minded (and hearted) “us and them” judgements. And, we must stop being parrots. We must become seekers and teachable at heart. We must be humble enough to learn more than we think we already know.
The Gospel that Jesus preached was about the full flavor of God’s Kingdom. In the world to come, and in the here and now.
It’s about honoring and worshiping Almighty God. It’s also about paying attention to and doing what He said in fuller measure in the world He has given us to steward.
We must never arrive! Instead we must walk by faith. That’s a journey not a destination. As we go (the real meaning of “Go”) into all the world and fashion maturing followers of Jesus. Journey. Journey, Journey.
P.S. Oh, yes…I almost forgot. I’ve learned a great deal of rich understanding from “Messianic Roots” teaching. I do not believe some of the positions of “Torah Pursuant” brothers and sisters, but my faith has been greatly enriched by looking to the roots of language and cultural understandings.
What teaching sources have been a blessing to you? Let us know in the comments: