Tech Update & Reflection

Still trying to figure out the best way to autoconnect my old blog, Facebook, and other future social media platforms so they populate from a single entry. In the meantime this got me thinking about how it can be so difficult to get everyone on the same page about the Gospel and what it is.

There's a church in town where I've recently moved to, and I considered visiting it, so I went to their website. They had a particularly stringent view of what was considered necessary doctrine for someone to be counted part of their group. At the same time, I am aware of whole dioceses in the Episcopal Church where talk of common core of doctrine even as basic as the Nicene Creed gets one labeled pejoratively as a "traditionalist". How can we navigate between having beliefs not be an onerous barrier to fully participation in the local church, yet not have an anything goes approach that hardly keeps people from dangerous ideas that will do them spiritual, or even physical, harm?

The key, I think, is to try to ensure those whose responsibility it is to communicate the Gospel all stay on the same message. We've been given Scripture as our primary source text from which we derive beliefs and against which we can readily measure the veracity of our ideas and practices. We have a growing corpus of historical testimony that has been consistent even in the face of new challenges as the Gospel spread into new cultures and as those cultures changed over time. We have the Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth, not in isolation depending on mere human logic or experience, but in community relying on the confirming voice of the Spirit of God in judicious consideration of the Bible and faithful tradition as it speaks in our day.

Often, what we face is hardly entirely new, but rehashing of old heresies and debates in new circumstances. Jehovah's Witness beliefs about Jesus are basically the Arian heresy in Baptist clothes. Oneness Pentecostals essentially endorse a long-heretical modalist view of God, but prioritizing the the Son over the Father and the Spirit. It is rare to find a novel heresy (like perhaps Mormonism, which still winds up basically a form of de facto polytheism, using Christian language and imagery alongside imaginative speculations about ancient history). But if the Church is consistent in its core doctrine about who God is, what God has done, and what our proper response should be, then we are less likely to be swayed by the changing winds of cultural priority - for example, today's politicized "gospel" that focuses on wokeness or white/Christian nationalism depending on one's blue or red leanings. We need to have a sense of where our theology ends and where our subordinate political beliefs begin. If we demand everyone agree with our policy solutions for perceived problems in America as a matter of "religious" conviction, we're soon to find ourselves straying into heresy, not to mention isolation, because there are political opinions as various as their are souls.

So let us who claim to preach the Good News be of one mind on the basics: the Trinity - one God in three persons; the saving work of Jesus life, death, and resurrection; the need for salvation from sin and death; the recognition that we cannot save ourselves without God's grace; the wonderful gift of the Spirit who empowers us to live godly lives and gathers us into God's family; the promise of our resurrection to enjoy heaven on earth forever when Christ returns. These are essential. We may not agree on important questions, like how God's sovereignty and our human responsibility resolves, but we should agree that God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to save us and fills us with the Spirit to begin enjoying that reality now in this time when the old sinful world is passing away and the new eternal age of perfection is made fully manifest. That way, we'll at least be populating every "platform" with the same message of hope so there's no confusion about what makes the Gospel such Good News in indeed!

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