Here's a thought for all of us: what's wrong with being clear about the fact that we're not clear about some things?
Let me be clear (Ha! Ha!) ;-)
There are some things about which the Bible is very, very clear. Like, for example, the fact that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light and no-one comes to the Father except through him. Or, as another example, "God is Love" — those are both clear statements from the bible. Not only that, but they are central statements too. We believe (rightly so, I think) that the choice for everyone is to either believe those things (and some others) or to not believe them. We've got these "central" things written down very nicely and concisely in the three creeds we confess, for the most part.
But as we get "farther out" from the central doctrine we also quite often get into muddier waters. When we do go out to those peripheral things, we quite often have great discussions — which is good — but we also quite often have a lot of hurt, and we have a lot of splitting up of the body going on. As an example, I married a baptist girl (a blessing for me for sure), and one of the things that my father-in-law and I have always agreed on about the baptist church in general is that it is exclusive based on something that is not core to the gospel. The very name for their theological grouping testifies to this fact: if you haven't been baptised in the right way, then you may not be a member of this congregation! There are exceptions, I would imagine, where baptist churches might conceivably allow me, a professing member of the CRC, to be a member of their congregation, but I've never run across one.
We have, of course, similar lines in the sand in the CRC. All denominations do. But why? That's my question. Why on earth (or in heaven, for that matter) can we not have a Christian Reformed Church in North America which is absolutely clear that there are somethings we don't agree on and that are not biblically absolutely clear and that aren't central to salvation anyways, so we're not going to sweat them too much? What's wrong with that kind of belief system? Why do we have to nail everything down?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for a simplistic "Just Jesus" kind of theological life. Instead I'm recommending that we do the following (and I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again):
1) By all means, have doctrines about every last possible issue and/or concern! BUT
2) Acknowledge those doctrines and issues about which we are not and/or cannot ever be absolutely certain and which are not central to our salvation anyway.
3) Pursuant to that acknowledgement, allow those who disagree with us on any/all of those doctrines to be full members/leaders/participants within our churches, provided they agree to teach the denomination's doctrine on those issues fairly, and that, when presenting other theological positions they do so fairly and openly.
What would be wrong with that? Can anyone answer that! Please!
The reason I bring it up again is that I'm heading to Synod this year and once again there are doctrinal issues at hand which cause division and strife even though they're not central to our salvation. Why can't we say: "Our best interpretation of the scriptures is that children may participate in communion based on their age and ability appropriate obedience, and that part of that obedience would include baptism. However, we recognize that many other Christians today and throughout the ages have made strong arguments about this issue and come to different conclusions. We recognize that this is not an issue that is categorically, clearly, unequivicably dealt with in scriptures."
What's wrong with that, and why can't we do that with other issues too? Help me out here folks.
In His service,