Monday, October 2, 2017
Christianity in America is as common as apple pie, thus herein is the analogy which I attempt to draw. When considering error you discover a conundrum in trying to assign it to others, when you become aware of your own weakness in understanding truth in its perfections. You enter a realm where you are just another voice crying along with the multitude, "Hey!, we have the truth over here!" It is then you notice the look of confusion on the face of those to whom you are calling.
Here I begin a feeble attempt to step outside that notorious realm of confusion and address the issue of error in the Christian faith. You will notice in the apple pie pictured above, it has some pecans in it. But you still recognize it as an apple pie, it just has some preference in taste added to it. Churches are like that to a great degree, according to taste and preferences they do have differences but they are recognizably Christian Churches.
It may be true that the original apple pie recipe did not have pecans, but this slight preference does not change the fact it is an apple pie. There are of course variations even in the core ingredients, more or less sugar, fruit, and crust thickness. This is simply an application of emphasis being placed more heavily upon one ingredient than the other. This occurs also in our Christian Churches, some churches place more emphasis upon some doctrinal ingredients than others and this in turn gives it a slightly different feel to the worship, but all the correct doctrinal ingredients are still there that make it a Christian Church. Now I'm not implying that these preferences and the applications of emphasis should exist, it is just a fact of life in our imperfections that they do. And as long as they are retained from their extremities they remain recognizable as Christian Churches.
Caution and prudence has to be applied in these subtle changes for there comes a point somewhere out there that it can become something else other than what it is.
An apple cobbler has some core ingredients that are similar to the apple pie, but it is not an apple pie. There is a point in Christian doctrine where it may still appear Christian, feel Christian, taste and smell Christian, but when you look at the doctrinal ingredients you discover it is not. It may have changed so slowly over time you never noticed when it ceased to be Christian and became something else. The exact point where this change occurs is sometimes difficult to pin point, so we must be diligent in our personal study of scripture and extremely cautious in our preferences.
In this series of blog posts I want to look at these subtle differences among us and hopefully bring some clarity and caution to our lives. My appeal will be to your reason; my source will be drawn from scripture, history, and personal experience by the way Providence has brought me. My hope will be in God, that He will enable me to convey my thoughts accurately and purposely. May He also use this to bring us all into a more stable understanding of who He is and the truth He has communicated to us in His Word.
As we draw the sword, understand it is in offense to that error that brings damage to the Faith that was once delivered to the saints, (Jude 1:3). It is not an attack upon you, though it may very well be levied upon some doctrine you hold. If it is, it is my hope you will consider the spirit in which I speak and examine it carefully.
We all believe the things we do for many reasons. Many times our experiences bring us certain understandings. Our friends and family influence us as people we trust. Our culture cultivates for us acceptance for things we bring into our lives. The list goes on from education to an enumerable list of factors that place us where we are in our understanding of God, life, and the beliefs we hold. All of these things are subjective, therefore they need be judged and examined by surer measures. Experiences can help us, but they can lead us astray. Friend and family can be trusted as they love us, but they are as weak and frail as ourselves. Culture can aid us, it can also destroy us. Education is a must in our understanding, but for lack of wisdom it can leave us defenseless.
At times even the very container of truth itself from which we drink can become corrupted. Even it must be examined from time to time against its original design. I know this sounds extreme, but it is said to make us think, to look beyond what we think we know. Even if all the church seems to believe something to be so, it still must be examined. There was a time in church history where a belief called Arianism so pervaded the church, it appeared to be almost entirely Arian. If you were a Christian at that time, the church next door most likely held Arian beliefs. A man named Athanasius was one who challenged the Church on these doctrines, thus we have the term coined, "Athanasius against the world" because so many were taken by this erroneous doctrine. Even now there are elements of this grave error still being proclaimed as truth today.
So let us pick up the sword, venture into the shadows. Over the next few weeks, let us slay the elements of error at the root. May the light of God's Word be our guide and a sure footing on which to stand.
May the Grace of God be upon each of you,
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