Decentralization of Theology

So I’m sitting here looking at the way the world thinks (ain’t the tag surfer on wordpress grand?), and I’m getting more and more amazed at the problems of society. One post is an atheist mocking Christianity by pretending to be an “ultra conservative” poster, meanwhile another post by an actual christian is quoting statistics from a religious watchdog group showing how many pastors in certain denominations deny the resurrection of Christ. What is going on in the world? The beginning of the great Falling Away mentioned in 2nd Thessalonians, chapter 2. This is where people are beginning to take the word of God, and make it say what they like to hear, simply because it makes them feel better about themselves. The prosperity doctrine (laughingly called by my roommates the “American Gospel”), Replacement Theology, Pre-tribulation rapture… it is simply not true. I was looking around on other blogs and came across this post and I thought it made an interesting point related to that jazz… something this particular blogger said in a different post, is that Protestants need to tighten the ranks from heresy, I must say that I agree.

Back in the days of yore, when the early church had a major dispute about a piece of doctrine, they would call a counsel of church leaders to discuss and sort out the issue (Case in point, the Jerusalem council of 52AD settled that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised to attain salvation by grace)… the fun bit is, they would come out with an understanding of the issue, and have a single, unified theology on the issue. Now, flash forward 1500 or so years, and you have Martin Luther translating the Bible into German to spark what we lovingly refer to as the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was a good thing, and very necessary for the world, as it placed the Bible into the hands of ordinary people, so that they could read it, understand it, and find God in it. Now comes the other side of the coin. Instead of talking and understanding a theological issue, out of the independence of the Reformation, we had several differing schools of thought spring from the ground,and we end up like the Corinthian church… one says, “I am of Luther”, another says “I am of John Huss”, still another says, “I am of Calvin”, or “I am of the Pope”. None of these men died for anyone’s sins, and none of these men baptised anyone into their own name. The real problem is that instead of a council to discuss the matters at hand with the new “revelations” being brought forth in the Reformation, they simply split from each other saying that they understood the word the way it was “supposed” to be.

What is all of this to say? It is the opinion of this author that it is time for another Church Council… not just to reconcile theological differences, but to reconcile the church unto itself. The spirit of Elijah the prophet is to turn the hearts of the sons to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the sons. It is time for the Protestants and the Catholics to resolve their issues as a Spiritual son to a Spiritual father, just as it is time for the American Baptists to be reunited with the Southern Baptists, and as it is time for the Charismatics to be reunited with the Methodists. What kind of damage can we do to the kingdom of Satan if the church can unify their theology behind the power and authority of God? Currently, there is no real accountability on earth for a Christian to go renegade style and lead many into error… this must be fixed. Our freedom as Christians to pursue God is being abused by those who mis-believe the word of God. If the Bible doesn’t mean what it says when it tells us that Jesus raised from the dead, how can we dare to believe that he will return at the end, or that he ever came to begin with? Not to be mis-understood, I do not think that the Reformation, personal Bible-study, or freedom of thought are wrong in any way, shape or form, however, I DO think that we need to ensure that our freedom is not leading us into a Snare of deception with eyes wide-open.

Any thoughts?
Adam

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~ by xristosdomini on June 19, 2007.

5 Responses to “Decentralization of Theology”

  1. Hmm. Interesting. Vewwy intewesting.

    I think I want to see some serious widespread wisdom and revelation happen before the proposed church council is called. In my opinion, too much of our theology has completely tanked for it to be safe to poll for a consensus at this point. In the West, we have too much philosophical knowledge and not enough real experience in the things of God for me to be comfortable with trying to come up with unified doctrine.

    And sadly, at this point, it would take a miracle to get certain ones of these groups even sitting at the same table.

    The important arguments settled at the early councils still hold water today… things like the Trinity, the nature of Christ, etc. When people start kicking against the idea of the Resurrection, or a divine Christ, or things along those lines, they’re already shrugging off established doctrine from the ancient church councils. I don’t imagine calling a new one will motivate them to change their doctrine any.

    Most of what has so divided the church is really the minutia, a lot of which is not so clearly defined in Scripture or so critical to the faith. I think a lot of things will be cleared up when we learn to let the big things be big and the little things be little, and learn to love each other despite our differeing opinions on some of this stuff.

    I guess to sum it up, I seriously think we need revival first. Maybe a council later. But definitely revival. Soon.

  2. I remember hearing good Conservative Baptist sermons about immersion baptism as I grew up – passionate argument for the historical practice and spiritual significance of the symbolic act (“prophetic demonstration” I learned in my more recent charismatic association). I doubt such a sermon ever ended without at least one derisive jab at sprinkling or the baptism of infants. I was young and impressionable – I drank that kool-aid, for a time.

    But I will be very surprised if the manner of ones baptism affects the length of eternity by even one minute.

    Folks get so invested in their own definition of piety – and I think it matters so much because the acts we characterize as righteous often become a tangible substitute for authentic encounters with God.

    I think before we start discussing the meaning of the law, we need to feel Mt. Sinai shaking…

  3. Amanda, I hear you… the real question is, have we truly gone so far in our theological wanderings that we can’t be pulled back from it unless there is a supernatural inbreaking? I think the real problem, in fact, is not so much that we need a council now, it’s that we should have had a couple THEN. So the quesiton NOW is, what do we do now that we are here? I agree with you that we need revival… but we also need Jesus to come back. So what do we do to fix these problems in the mean time?

    Brian, yeah, I’ve heard some of those too (in my internet pilgrimmages), and it is kind of sad that we can’t talk about our theology without trashing someone else’s. I think you can go all over stupid with discussing certain things (Grape Juice vs. Wine… need I say more?) I guess I’m just kind of wondering if there is anything we can do about this as humans. “If a man turns a sinner from his ways, he will shine like the stars on that day.” The implication being that we can turn people from the direction they are currently heading… but the rudder is so much stiffer when people believe they are following God. And yes, lets ask God to shake the mountain… I just hope the people don’t stray while Moses is getting the law…

  4. Adam, in response to you response, “…have we truly gone so far in our theological wanderings that we can’t be pulled back from it unless there is a supernatural inbreaking?” Bluntly, yes. I believe we have. Obviously it’s not like the entire church is wrong on everything, but there’s a frighteningly large and growing number of people who consider themselves to be committed Christians and yet don’t buy into the basics of the faith. On our own, we are completely unable to fix this crisis at all.

    “I think the real problem, in fact, is not so much that we need a council now, it’s that we should have had a couple THEN.”
    1) When is “then”? If we’re talking the first few centuries of the church, we had a lot. But our serious theological errors come from people shrugging off the conclusions of aforementioned councils.

    “So the question NOW is, what do we do now that we are here?”
    We pray Ephesians 1:17-19 night after night after night after night… and preach the Gospel with boldness. Until we get some serious revival, we really are stuck in our own self-made rut.

  5. Amanda, when I say THEN I am referring to the “then” as in the Reformation… when there was the Great Decentralization of Theology (hence, the title). Hence, also the emphasis on not trashing personal study, just talking about how their was a huge split in theology that was left by itself too long in a dark corner of church history.

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