Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Here I Stand


The title phrase should be recognizable to Lutherans as it is a famous quote of a statement by Martin Luther. In using it he declared his opposition to some of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. His courage was undeniable in that the Catholic church had a record of brutality against those who opposed their teaching. However, even the Catholic church eventually changed some of the more egregious errors (such as selling indulgences) as a result.

Today the “here I stand” attitude is often less an incremental step towards truth in the face of death than a Pharisaical (self-righteous) declaration of preference (this is what I believe, so I am right and you are wrong). This is often found as the cause for religious disputes (1 Cor 3:3-4). In addition, it is a sign of immaturity.

A pastor on a Youtube video once commented that he received a telephone call regarding a series he had done on the book of Daniel. The caller asked him what he thought the fourth kingdom was and the pastor answered, “Rome”. The caller then hung up. The pastor said, “Don’t hang up, if you have a different idea, I am interested to hear it”.

This represents an often missing element in Christianity today, the openness to inquire. There are several reasons for the reluctance to grow in understanding.

1. Questioning can be unsettling and uncomfortable.

2. Fear of being mistaken or tricked.

3. Fear of exposing ignorance.

4. Fear of questioning a denominational package of doctrine.

The basic gospel is Jesus died for our sins and rose again (1 Cor 15:1-4). It is trusting in this that gives salvation. Everything else about the bible, Christianity, how we should live, and what is expected of Christians should be open for discussion. Being presented with a doctrinal “package” is like being told that someone else has done all the thinking for you. While seemingly efficient and attractively easy, Christianity was not supposed to be accomplished by specialists. We are all expected to grow into Christ-likeness (Eph 4:14-15).

There are a couple of problems with denominational doctrinal ‘packages’. The first is that they are static and imply that they are the end of all knowledge. This inhibits both questioning and further learning. Secondly, they often become elevated even over the bible. It is all too human to reduce things to perfunctory systems. This makes things easier, however, when one considers how many in Israel failed to recognize Jesus as their Messiah, one begins to see the dangers in a religion run as a system.

Rather than being steadfast and resolute in one’s religion, having steadfast faith in the gospel and the freedom to continue to explore, question, and seek deeper truth in the bible can contribute to one’s Christian maturity. The benefits of maturity are seeing truth so clearly as to avoid being taken in (Eph 4:14), free from contentions (1 Cor 3:3), becoming a better person (Gal 5:22-23), and better able to help others (2 Cor 1:4).

Learning and growing is a dynamic Christian faith. Being planted in a system that someone else has determined restricts one and may even present something other than the gospel of Christ as the basis for faith.



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