Saturday, February 16, 2008

Be Progressive

People often defend the idea of absolute, fundamental truth.

I agree that at a very basic level, there are basic truths - about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and also scientific truths.

They are all linked as well. Science is part of God's creation. He made it, He defined it, and so any proven 100% (as opposed to 99%) scientific fact can be called true. True about God's creation.

Science is limited however. There is only so much you can measure with science.

However, if you look at science as a dimension of God's creation, or even part of God, then you have a slightly different view. God the creator expressing Himself through creation, and science as a means of making it all happen.

Almost like God created science in order to help us understand His creation and measure it. They are two sides of the same coin. They compliment each other. Science can't 100% prove God's existence, but God can sure explain the existence of science.

There are things about God, and about science, that we don't know yet.

Believe it or not.

In terms of science, well we are learning more every day; there are plenty of people looking for those new ideas.

As for God, well that's a different story. Progressives are always called heretics by their generation.

The problem, which can be found in science as well as in Christianity, is that every generation seems to think they are the enlightened ones, that they have the definitive answers to everything, both spiritually and scientifically.

Each time this happens progressive thinkers come along and come up with new interpretations, new ideas. In science, until they prove it, they are called crazy.

If you're a Christian, you're called a heretic.

The Christian faith as we know it now is very different from that 400 years ago. Most Christians living now would be burnt at the stake as heretics if they went back there and spoke the same things.

Yet now, many of these self-same people call any preacher or church that comes up with progressive ideas which challenge us to look at things or at God in a different way, in a new way, in a way which is radically different from anything before, a heretic.

Here's an interesting fact for you. Jesus Himself was effectively called a heretic. He was accused of blasphemy. He was executed for it in fact.

Is that not a lesson for us?

Every so often a time comes in history where we need to push forward, where we need to look at things in a new way, where God is showing us new dimensions of Himself and giving us new challenges.

The church needs to move forward and adapt and change so that it can communicate a relevant message in a relevant way. The basic truths never change, but how we live them out has to change.

I think often we're more the problem with making Jesus relevant.

We limit the message, we put boxes around it, and we say there is only one right interpretation or meaning to a passage.

Well some people do anyway.

There are so many new things God wants to say through old scriptures. Teachings which don't go against old truths, but elaborate on them, but open them out and open our eyes to new ways of seeing them and new ways of applying them.

Christianity more than ever before is something not just that we believe in, but a way of life. A culture in itself. A way of living, a lifestyle choice.

It always was meant to be so, but now, in the lifestyle culture we live in, that teaching, that interpretation is more relevant now than ever. Being a Christian isn't just about believing and going to church.

It’s a lifestyle choice.

It’s an attitude.

It’s a state of mind.

Based on basic truths found in the Bible.

We need to be humble. We need to be open to anything God says, even if it hurts our pride or ego. Fear too is a boundary to hearing new ideas and teachings from the Bible.

As long as they don't contradict the nature and character of God, as long as they don't contradict the very basic truths in the Bible - at a very basic level - then they are worth considering.

Basic truths for me are summed up beautifully in the Nicene Creed....

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

In my opinion if any teaching comes along which doesn't in any way deny this, and doesn't go against the perfectly just, loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving nature of God then it is worth considering and thinking about.

There is so much more to learn about God, and about how to be a Christian. There's so much more He has to say to us.

Let’s not get so caught up in religion and tradition that aren't aware of how God wants us to live. Now. Today.

Because the way He wants us to live today will be different from what has gone before, purely because the culture, society and world that we live in today is different from even 50 years ago, yet alone 400 years ago.

Let’s not get stuck in tradition. Let’s be progressive. Let’s grow.

Personally I'm excited to see what new things God wants to say and do and I want to be open to see and hear them.

Aren't you?