What we are not

I’ve found myself resonating a lot with Mark Driscoll lately. Yes, I know he’s reformed and Calvinist, that’s not what I mean. I mean most everything else I’ve heard from him. His attitude towards culture, his attitude towards the church and its mission, his attitude towards compromise in the name of communication and open doors. Heck (can I say “heck”? must be Driscoll rubbing off), I’d affiliate with Acts 29 if they weren’t openly/specifically reformed and Calvinist. But I don’tcondemn or criticize them for that. I’m sure some do. They are what they are and that’s cool. But what’s even more cool IMO is that they know and openly confess what they are not.

I’ve been commenting on stuff I’ve heard from Mark so often lately my wife said, “Why don’t you just affiliate with them too?” It’s because I couldn’t honestly sign something saying that I agree with and could uphold their theological perspective. I’ve looked at it before, but just for grins I looked at the Acts 29 FAQ again this morning, specifically the Beliefs and Core Values. And then I noticed something. (I’m a quick one.) They have a section called, “What does Acts 29 not believe?” with this intro:

Because Acts 29 is often associated with other movements
we frequently get questions about emerging theological controversies.
To help clarify our beliefs we believe it may also be helpful to
declare what we do not believe. In stating what we are not, we do not
seek to attack those who disagree with us, but rather distinguish
ourselves so that pastors considering joining our network are aware of
who we are, as well as who we are not.

I said to myself, “Precious, that’s it! What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.” Regardless of what is on the list, the act of defining what you are not or what you do not believe can be a good thing. Personally, all this talk and fear over CC defining what it doesn’t believe or what it is against is kind of ridiculous. “I don’t want to be part of something that is known for what it is against.” That just makes no sense to me. Jesus was known for what he was against by many. Paul was known for what he was against by many. Virtually everyone is known for what they are against.

Is that exclusively what sets them apart? Not always. It’s what others choose to see that determines what they are known for (or against). In these times it is becoming more important for believers to know both. It’s important for churches to define both. The basis of many of Jesus’ teachings were, “Don’t be like this, but be like this.” Part of the audience would focus on one element, some on the other, but a balance of both was the point.

Now, I am not advocating that we go on a crusade saying “This is what and who we are against” in an adversarial way. I do think its perfectly reasonable, and perfectly Biblical to define and declare “This is what we believe, and this is what we do not believe.” I mean, come on. If you want to read a divisive belief statement, just read The Law. “When you enter the land don’t be like the nations around you because they are heathen pigs and I’m sending you in to wipe them out because of their ickyness.”

God is for and God is against. Boldly declaring both in love, humility, and confidence, is part of our Biblical mandate as churches, pastors, and believers. Defining what we don’t believe or disagree with is not a declaration of war. It’s simply doing what Acts 29 is doing. “To help clarify our beliefs we believe it may also be helpful to declare what we do not believe. In stating what we are not, we do not seek to attack those who disagree with us, but rather distinguish ourselves so that pastors considering joining our network are aware of who we are, as well as who we are not.”

I think that’s a good thing.

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