How Doctrinal Diversity is Affirmed in Scripture: PART 2

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. Into this world ,Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the disciples, strove to model to us that diversity of belief is acceptable (and needed)in the kingdom of God.

Jesus first modeled his doctrinal diversity when he chose his disciples. No self-respecting college, church, non-profit would have chosen such a team to serve together on the board of directors, and few leaders would assemble such a crew to train for co-operative service. Jesus intentionally chose followers that had polar-opposite political and theological views. Some (like Matthew) collaborated with the Roman occupation and others (the Zealots) likely worked in collusion for Rome’s demise in Palestine. Their beliefs and actions on Rome were based on theological beliefs on what Israel was and who the Messiah would be. Yet Jesus welcomed all as they were and without lengthy doctrinal teaching molded them into whom he was calling them to be.

Jesus again demonstrated his “open theology” in Luke 9:49.

John reported to Jesus a possible heresy; “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” We don’t know exactly what “He is not one of us” meant – perhaps not one of the twelve. Regardless, John’s statement made it clear he believed there was a “licensing process” or some type of ordaining that this man lacked and therefore did not have the proper requirements.

Jesus shut down that type of us-them thinking when he replied, “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Whoa! Jesus, don’t you understand without proper ecclesiastical controls you’ll have chaos?

Jesus seemed to believe the results spoke for themselves. He didn’t seem to care what words they said, or the exact doctrine they held on messianic presence and demonic beings. Jesus knew they represented him and his kingdom, because they did what they did based on His “Name” his authority and his will. Who knows if they had a “proper” concept of the doctrine of election, the place of women in the church, or God’s sovereignty – Jesus was content to know they honored him as the Messiah, sent by God.

Jesus never could work at a Christian College today; the “FRIENDS” (and I am NOT referring to the Quakers) would probably drive him away – because his views seem much too “post-modern.” You know their mantra… “we can not be wishy-washy on truth, there is only ONE way to see everything and if we don’t agree… we’ll kick you out – or take our ball and go play somewhere else!”

Next – a look at Paul – a pre-modern apostle – who translated the Gospel into early modernism – but would be quite at home with many post-moderns!

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

  1. Mark,

    Again, I have some comments about what you have written.

    It seems to me here that you jump to conclusions. I think that either side of your question (did Jesus allow a doctrinal diversity) could use these passages to support your viewpoint.

    The passages do not seem to indicate that Jesus accepted their diversity of belief. One could say that Jesus took in a variety of wrong beliefs to teach them the correct way.

    Also, to liken Jesus’ picks for disciples to an elder board pick is a little misleading. The disciples did not become leaders of the church till after 3 years with Jesus. Could not some of their doctrinal diversity become doctrinal unity?

    Next, your example of someone casting out demons also seems to jump to conclusions. We do not know what this persons beliefs are. In fact, I could say that, because Jesus accepted the actions without questioning, the person believed the same things. But its hard to say that because there is little evidence either way.

    You have started with the presupposition that Jesus allowed a diversity and then applied it to the example. I find it hard to see these passages in themselves as proof that Jesus accepted a wide range of conflicting beliefs.


  2. true that Josh – but the fact is NEVER in order to heal, save, feed, or eat dinner with someone – did Jesus first want to hear their creeds – there is NO way people in the bible could have KNOWN or BELIEVED half the stuff we fight and divide about today – because it just was not “developed theology: at that time – but FAITH and RELATIONAL belief –

    this is my point – we fight in the church over stuff we THINK is so important (but is obscure and indirect) – and largely ignore scriptures about love – forgiveness and unity!

  3. (marque it’s the same from FB)

    I believe that Post-modernism is not the big threat to Christianity – Relativism is. It seems to me like so many Christians equate the two, but they don’t have to be the same. One can be “post-modern” without believing in relativism. I believe this is the Christian way.

    I grew up in a Christian home, in the church, and in a Christian high school. I got a very solid Biblical base because of all of that and I am so grateful. I went on to a secular state school and got my degree in English with a concentration on Rhetoric. If you didn’t know, the English department is probably the most post-modern department out there, and the biggest proponent of relativism also. So I’ve studied both a lot, and had to find a place to reconcile my solid Christian beliefs and post-modernism, and figure out where they ceased to agree with relativism, etc.

    Post-modernism is the thought trend of deconstruction of reality. Realizing that not everyone experiences life in the same way, that what one person thinks is “common sense” is not “common” to every person. A Biblical application would be that “God is Father” is not experienced in the same way by everyone – ie the girl who grew up with an abusive father would view God differently than the girl who grew up with a father who came to her softball games, took her out on dates, and told her she was beautiful. This does not mean that God is not Father, it means that each person will relate to God differently as Father through their own experiences, and that each person will have different hurdles to overcome to truly see God as Father in a pure way.

    The same goes across cultures. Different cultures see words, phrases, ideas, through the lens of their culture and experiences.

    Post-modernism is simply a recognizing of lenses – that we all see, think, and experience life through our own upbringing (culture, family, personality, experiences).

    Post-modern thought seeks to find the core, pure meaning of something by combining all the felt-meanings or experienced-meanings of others. It takes the differences and tries to find what they have in common. Then starting with that commonality, it seeks to build on it.

    Relativism is often the next step – to declare that there is no absolute truth, because we all experience things/reality/truth differently. Relativism says that no true/pure meaning or definition exists, but that we will come together, find the commonality, and seek to get as close to the truth as we can. But with the assumption in the beginning that it does not exist.

    I recognize that others do experience things differently because of their various lenses that they think/feel/believe through.

    As a Christian, I also believe that there is absolute truth – God’s Truth, that He knows absolutely, and that He communicates to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit.

    Can these two work together? Absolutely! We can recognize our differences, know that it does not mean that either of us is right or wrong, but that we can come together and combine our ideas together to get a bigger view of God.

    What is absolute? The existence of God. The characteristics of God. Jesus Christ made flesh dwelling among us. Sin. The need for sacrifice. Christ’s death and resurrection. Atonement and Redemption. God’s Word. God’s judgement. God’s forgiveness. Christ’s return. God’s love for His creation. The call to be Christ-like. The call to love others.

    Now we all need to seek those together.

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