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!