Saturday, 7 November 2009

truth... vs. theological positions, liturgical practices, distinctives... hearing what the Spirit says to the churches

Nov 4, 2009 (yet again…)

… yesterday, T was talking about how the church he attends is a “Baptist” church, and how it is important for a church group, once they have decided to affiliate with a particular denomination/ theological stance, to stick with it, and to teach those theological positions (and live them out/ express them appropriately, in the services, etc). He kept referring to “charismatic” as something to (apparently) avoid… I’m thinking it is perhaps because a former pastor of that “Baptist Church” had at one time been a Pentecostal pastor… and still had a tendency to stress the work and leading of the Holy Spirit, in a stronger way perhaps than more “strictly Baptist” pastors might do.

I know that Truth is essential… but I fear that “truth” has become “that which we believe, theologically,” and also “our” liturgical practices, and “our distinctives” (for example, in the case of Baptists, adherence to Calvinistic theological viewpoints, and “services” that are generally “conservative” in style, and of course insistence on baptism by immersion after personally being born again, etc…)

My reading this morning included Revelation chapters 2 and 3, messages to the seven churches. The one thing that was repeated in every case was, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).

Jesus promised to send the Spirit, who would explain all Jesus had taught – Jesus being the Way, the Truth, the Life!

I love the Bible/ scriptures/ Word of God – and we as Christians consider ourselves to be “people of the Book” and claim “sola scriptura” which was a foundational principle of the Protestant Reformation (in reaction to adding tradition, papal pronouncements, etc, to scriptural truth). But Scripture without the Holy Spirit is a “dead word,” in that relationship with God (because of Jesus, through His Holy Spirit) is the true and final basis and foundation – that for which we were created, and which Jesus died and rose again to RESTORE!

The messages to the seven churches are SO relevant to the church in this day and age. Way too often, as 1 Corinthians 3:3 points out, we are “walking as mere men” instead of “hearing what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2 and 3). We are, like the “church” that the Reformers protested against, caught up, ourselves, in creeds and catechisms (even if we don’t use those particular terms… we like “statements of faith” and “mission statements” and so forth!), and theological positions, and interpretations of scripture which lead us to pride, contempt of other brethren, in-fighting, disunity… “walking as mere men!” We seem to feel that God spoke through His Word (and possibly through his Spirit, though that does not seem to be as universally accepted or considered as important by some… oh dear…) to some man/ men/ groups in the far distant past, once and for all, and as long as we memorize and repeat those “sacred” interpretations and perspectives (the ones we personally have chosen as “right”), we’ll be just dandy!

But YOU want to guide each of us YOURSELF (while at the same time [incredibly, it sometimes seems to me… oh dear…] using us to encourage and edify one another – because we all have the same Spirit within us, who never changes, and therefore we will be in unity!). You want each of us to be in relationship with You. We are each of us members of the “holy priesthood” … we are called to follow ONE high priest, Jesus Christ, as He leads us by HIS Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ! We are NOT called to accept unquestioningly the viewpoints of “holy men/ leaders? But to bring those words to You, and ask You to lead us into all truth. And since we are “human,” we are to seek Your truth together, so we do not err by falling into pride and the foolishness of men.

We are to remain in, grow in, our “first love” (Revelation 4:2)!!!

I want to hear what YOU, Holy Spirit, have to say to the churches!!!

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