…this is a continuation of an idea.
…there are exceptions.
…this isn’t anything more than my observation.
Okay… enough of the caveats…
So I’ve been reading up on APEST structures, missional ideas, and church history over the past few years. I’ve immersed myself in the conversations, seen some shifting, and have experienced some “bucking” as I start to ask questions.
I’ve noticed a paradigm that exists in many of the different approaches (whether it be the missional, attractional, the mega-macro, or the mini-micro). There are all kinds of ideas that permeate and dominate the blogs, books, and conferences. Honestly, you could make a career of confusing churches if you are savvy enough. That’s why we have consultants, right?
So there are the “oikos” to “temple” continuums.
…and the pioneers to settlers continuum.
…and the attractional/extractional to missional continuums.
…and the apostles/prophets to evangelist to shepherd/pastor/teacher continuums.
…and the conservative evangelical to emerging post-modern continuums.
…the Arminianism to Calvinism continuum
…the “women have equal authority” to “they need to be quiet” continuum
…the “saved” to “lost” continuum
…and on and on they go.
We accept a lot of them. We ask people what they believe, then “peg” them somewhere on the respective scale. We access and then subsequently decide who is for us and who is against us. I’ve rarely met anyone that doesn’t do this. We do it in the church. I heard it this summer at seminary. I’ve seen it in the world… we might just call it something different like the republican-democrat or yankee-red sox continuum.
We can’t remove ourselves from operating this way. We can, sometimes with success, suspend this thinking. (see “Thinking in New Boxes”) But it’s instinctive is many ways and taught in a lot of ways.
We are people of boxes and categories. We are taught that boundaries save us. You know the “you can do this” and “you can’t believe that” philosophy.
Let’s say that we are bound to this type of thinking and processing. Let’s assume that you and I can only operate with this mentality: “You’re with me on this, so you’re a good guy…and the rest are bad guys”. Maybe we are designed to operate this way. Maybe we are programmed to be in “triiibes” and we have to attack/fear the “others” for surviving and thriving.
Let’s just say, from looking around at 99.99% of human activity, that this is the norm.
What are the continuums (or boundaries) that glorify God?
…does the Bible suggest politics?
…does the Word say theology?
…does God place them on what’s just?
…does It say the line is whether you are going or coming?
…do we draw them based on whether you read Rob Bell or not?
…or Mark Driscoll?
…or Joel Osteen?
Warning: the Bible isn’t specific on these holistically.
We could play this game forever. I get caught up in this game often, and usually come out the other side pissed off that I got caught up in it. I don’t care if I’m discussing healthcare, eschatology, or who is the greatest running back of all-time.* I end up leaving the conversation mad because I’ve pegged someone or even angrier that someone has pegged me. Why am I angry?… because I doubt that anyone can be summed up that easily.
So what do I do?
I’m trying to operate on a new continuum because I realize that my brain won’t allow me to remove this type of thinking. So instead of perpetuating old continuums, I’m trying to operate on a different one.
One that has words on one end like…
…one who has questions
And on the the other end…
…one who has answers
You see, Scriptures that stand out to me are those
…of a tax collector beating his chest.
…of a man walking away from Jesus because he won’t sell his stuff
…of a unbaptized criminal beside Jesus on the cross
…of Peter getting exposed that he was, in fact, scared and denied Jesus
…of Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch
…of Paul writing to Timothy saying ”God saved me to show us how bad you can be and still receive grace”
…of Job, Elijah, Moses, and Ruth
…and on and on and on…
Maybe I can sum up this thought with one statement…
I can trust an atheist who knows he is an atheist and lives like one more than I trust a “Christian” who knows he is an atheist and lives like one.
…just trying to move myself to the exposed side of the continuum
***FYI the greatest RB of all-time is Barry Sanders. Although this is a known fact, I used this as an illustration.***