Monday, July 05, 2010

One Name

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
(1 Corinthians 1:10-13 ESV)

By God's grace, many of men have gone before me in church planting, so I don't feel I have to go at it blindly.  One thing that I believe needs to be reiterated time and time again is the fact that above all else, we exist in the name of Jesus Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.  There is a great temptation that has existed for generations to divide so much that we miss the whole point of the Church based upon theological convictions.  While I value greatly theology, doctrine, and the Bible, I think that it is easy to get so entrenched in a 'camp' that we deny the existence of the Body of Christ and live as 'The Body Parts of Christ.'

Learning from those who have gone before me, I understand and embrace the importance of clearly articulating certain convictions and beliefs at the beginning of a church.  There have been pastors who have not articulated these convictions and have ended up in hot water with the people of their church because of their unarticulated theological convictions.  This is a fine line, but a necessary one at that.

Last night I was talking with a new friend who has been visiting our church for the last few weeks and we were discussing Reformed Theology and the church.  I shared with him specific convictions that we have and why I feel that it is important to articulate them clearly and often early on in the life of a church plant.  He responded with a great point, quoting the above passage, and it got me to thinking a lot about the Church as a whole and some divisive issues going on throughout.  Some of the issues of basic doctrine need to be confronted, but other areas can go too far and lead us to a place of claiming a name other than Jesus.

On one hand, it is important to let people know that you are Reformed or Calvinistic in your hermeneutic (the way you read and interpret the Scriptures), but on another hand, it is crucial that you do not forsake the banner of Christ for the banner of Calvin, Luther, Wesley, or the like.  What a tough balancing act!

I believe that we are to be a people identified first and foremost by our allegiance to Jesus Christ.  If we begin there, then we can then delve into the deeper mysteries of the Scriptures together, seeking how to "spur one another on towards love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24).

Again, I am convinced that it is very important to articulate clearly non-negotiables at the onset of a church-plant, however, it is also equally important to not carry any other name than Jesus Christ as the identifier as a people.  If you are a 'Calvinistic' or "Arminian' congregation, begin as one for Jesus Christ, and as your family grows, be up front about how you are, but never forget whose you are.

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