Friday, May 17, 2013

The Coming Lightening Rod

So far in my ramblings, I have tackled politics and equality and a couple of side growth issues.

I know that all of you (whoever you are) are excitedly wondering, "What is this renowned scholar/blogger going to write on next????" :-) Well, the answer is The Order Salutis.

Why on earth am I picking that? Well, over the last few months, as is reflected in my blog, I have been working through some really healthy concepts of what does Biblical communication of the Gospel look like to those around me. Obviously, since I am a pastor, I see it through that lens, but I have had great conversations about the same thing through the lens of regular "Joe Christian" engaging the world around us.

I decided to revisit the Order (I haven't thought much about it since my ordination) because I'd like to try to communicate each part of the Order, through the medium of a blog, with the goal being to be as clear and straightforward as I can, while communicating grace and speaking truth in love.

Many of you, I imagine, have never even heard of the Order before (unless you just Googled it and read Wikipedia's version) and so this will be a good opportunity for me to communicate foundational Christian stuff to an audience who is unfamiliar some or all the parts of it.

As our culture moves more and more towards pragmatism, syncretism, and tolerance there has been an overwhelming backlash against truth, consistency, and doctrine. I am greatly troubled by two things:

1) The ongoing confusion/lack of distinction between theology and doctrine within Christian circles.
2) The abandoning of and irrelevance towards doctrine in an effort to get away from the divisions caused by theology within Christian circles.

I am greatly disturbed by this because if Christians abandon doctrine then:
1) there is no truth to communicate to the dying world around us.
2) there are no safeguards in place to distinguish between truth and error.
3) there are no distinctives to be held up between faiths, religions, and/or spiritual worldviews.

So, I thought I would spend some time looking at The Order to show the dividing lines between doctrine and theology, to highlight why we need doctrine and must allow grace in theology, and to show the distinctiveness of authentic Biblical Christianity.

Please remember that I am intentionally writing my blog with two main goals in mind. 1) to work out my own views on certain things...kinda like an online journal 2) to communicate as if everyone reading this blog does not know Jesus but is willing to read a Christian's ramblings and see if He is worth believing in.

Lastly, please allow me to detail how I view myself when it comes to faith:

Christian (Defined by Biblical Doctrine)
-  Evangelical (Shaped by Biblical Doctrine)
--- Protestant (Came about to appeal for [protest for] Biblical Doctrine)
----- Reformed (a theology that flows out of Biblical Doctrine)
------- Presbyterian (a form of church government and theology that flows out of Reformed theology that flows out of Biblical Doctrine)
--------- Evangelical Presbyterian ( a denominational partnering that flows out of a form of church government and theology that flows out of Reformed theology that flows out of Biblical Doctrine)

Even as I finish writing the above flow chart, I can imagine different people from different viewpoints taking issue with different parts. It is my hope that, as we journey through The Order together, you will begin to see why this is how I view myself. I am not saying that I am 100% right in this view or that I am above changing  it some at some point but this is where I am right now. The items at the top are shaped by Biblical Doctrine and are thus much more important than the ones at the bottom.

So, for those that are interested, let's explore The Order together. I'm looking forward to it.