How Doctrinal Diversity is Affirmed in Scripture: PART 1

In my last two blog posts I’ve discussed how the modernist-western church fights and fears post-modernism yet has embraced a form of Gnosticism in regards to how knowledge (gnosis) of certain “truths” are seen as keys to salvation. This is why we frequently hear evangelical conservatives say things like, “I don’t think she’s a real Christian because she doesn’t believe in (insert pet doctrine)” or “You aren’t a real Christian if you voted for (insert pet politician). Scripture is quite clear what the gospel is: John 1:12 reads: “…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” What are we to believe basically that Jesus is the Christ and his Life, death, and resurrection!

But the modern-gnostic-christians want you to know hell may also await those who: among other things, speak in tongues at the wrong time, let women preach in the wrong place, those who believe Jesus is returning in the wrong period, or those who vote for the wrong person.

The western Church has been molded by modernist thought, that arose from the enlightenment. Modernism grew out of a belief that God created a world that is logical and that we can know and understand the world around us by logical, scientific, and mathematical rules. This understanding enabled the scientific era to begin. I am grateful for this development in that much benefit has come to society and individuals. However this approach to truth began to run amuck (which is from the old-english term for horse dukey) when it began to usurp the pre-modern truth that was revealed in Scripture.

The scientific method began to be applied rigidly to reading scripture and seeking God. Again this was not all bad, but the result often was that finite humans believed they could adequately describe an infinite God. Scripture was written in a pre-modern world in which often the Narrative (the story) was more important than the strict didactic (teaching). The eastern – culture of biblical times understood that truth was more than mental, but also relational, living, and directly tied to action.

Why does this matter? This self-righteous addiction to gnosis (knowledge) is at the heart of why the church divides more than the cells in a zygote – and is much less healthy!

Part 2 – Examples of Jesus, Paul and the Disciples Embracing Doctrinal Diversity! – Later today…..

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2 thoughts on “How Doctrinal Diversity is Affirmed in Scripture: PART 1”

  1. Mark,

    I have been following your posts first via facebook and now via your blog directly. I have to say that I disagree with much of what you say here.

    In regards to this, I think you hit some nails on the head. Many people want to know “periphery” doctrines and make them central to being called a believer. This is obviously wrong to say that a person’s view of millenialism or open vs. classic theology determines his/her salvation.

    However, to say that there is no knowledge necessary (which at the least you hint at), seems wrong. But you obviously know this because you said that to be saved “we [are] to believe basically that Jesus is the Christ and his Life, death, and resurrection!” So which is it? Are there some truths that someone must know and understand to believe (and therefore inform their actions)?

    Of course, it is not the knowledge of the truth that saves you. One must take action (believe) that truth. But the knowledge truth of Jesus’ blood, death and resurrection are still necessary.

    I imagine that you and I are closer on this that it initially seems, but your blog posts make it seem like you reject that knowledge plays no roll in salvation.

    For scriptures that indicate that God requires a measure of knowledge please see the following:
    Proverbs 3:13-14, 19-22
    Proverbs 4:5-8
    Psalm 119:25-40

    Second, I disagree strongly with your assessment of how narrative and story telling played themselves out. I live in the middle east and teach middle eastern students and interact with middle eastern neighbors. I do not currently live in the modern/post-modern west. I teach history to high school kids.

    Like you said, I have found that they grasp concepts easier and in more depth if I connect a concept to a story. I have found that if I have a good mix of making history a story (which it is… duh) combined with concrete concepts which I want them to know, students do better on tests and quizzes. Even last night as I sat around the campfire with my friends, we spent most of the night telling stories.

    However, seem to say that story (narrative) has replaced knowledge. This is not true in my experience living here. The method for delivering the concept or truth or knowledge is different, but I am still delivering a piece of knowledge. The question is should I use a story or an outline (systematic theology?) to communicate my piece of knowledge. The question is not should I communicate a piece of knowledge or tell a story. (the same thing could be said in my economics classes)

    Not only do I find this as I (a modern/post modern westerner) teach, but I see it as I watch other middle easterners interact with each other and talk with each other. I am considerably more heavy in my western methods, but my methods are not contrasted by asking them to know a piece of truth, but by how I get them to know.

    Much of the post-modern teaching on a diversity of truths would be outright rejected in the middle east, even though the narrative is more important than a systematic presentation of truths.

    Josh Perkins

  2. thanks for disagreeing – and for your perspective from the middle east

    2 things before geting to work on my basement

    1. Belief that Jesus is the Christ – is not devoid of knowledge – but is not ONLY mental assent – I am one who appreciates apologetics, historical and textual – but that is not the basis for knowing Jesus – he is known as a person – yet the western church so often worships “OUR” view of doctrine over the person of Jesus – and so are willing to sacrifice borthers and sisters in Christ (and practice self-mutilation of the body of Christ)

    2. I agree with you – the narrative does not replace the knowledge but conveys it – but that knowledge then becomes contextualized and even to some extent relative to the hearer –

    for example – the story of the Good Samaritan is Jesus teaching about who is my neighbor – but the truth is that story has different impact if you are a wealthy pastor in the USA or if you are a peasant farmer in Honduras….

    go figure – …

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