Somewhere online this week I said “mature believers can disagree maturely.” I said it, but honestly wonder if it’s so. Can we, for love’s sake, agree to disagree on the non-essentials? Remember Augustine’s famous quote? “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all else, charity.” It seems to me that, somewhere along the Way, we’ve lost the ability to disagree in love. Else why do we stand frothy-mouthed at our battle lines, ready to pounce?
Augustine’s words are great ones, but it seems we can’t quite agree on just what the essentials are anymore. Honestly, the litmus test for orthodoxy seems to be growing broader by the day. Old earth creationist? You’re out! Read Henri Nouwen? You’re out! Get anything out of: Buechner, Eldredge, or Bell? You’re out, too! (The list, unfortunately, goes on and on).
Case in point: the flap over Rob Bell’s upcoming book. While I don’t agree with universalism (if that’s what his position ends up being), I’m not excused from loving him as a fellow human being, a pilgrim on the Way. My responsibility is to search the Scriptures, be a Berean, and earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. Notice I said “the faith,” not “my faith.” Of the gravest errors, that one is right up there; namely to mistake my faith for the faith. It is an error of transposition. Which is why there are so many denominations, sects, schools of thought, what-have-yous in Christendom. We’re far too interested in defending our little corners of the kingdom, and thus contending with each other, than we are in actually, honestly, loving one another. (I wonder what the unbelieving world–on the outside looking in–thinks when it sees us squabbling thus? Does it know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another?). I mean that’s hard work right? Seeing past our differences, and uniting in a common love for our Lord?
Harder than hanging on a cross?
I doubt it.
In Matthew 13 (The Parable of the Weeds), Jesus said this:
“24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
My take, and my purpose for sharing it, on the above passage is this: if Rob Bell is wrong, God will take care of him. If John Piper is wrong, God will likewise take care of him. The simple fact is nobody has God 100% figured out, else He wouldn’t be God at all if our finite minds could fully comprehend Him now would He?
I realize I’m using this out of context, but bear with me: “Render unto God what is God’s…” and let Him sort out the rest. Instead of constantly contending with each other, I’d like to suggest that we, Jacob-like, contend with Him. I believe this actually delights His Father’s heart.