Perspective

Like-mindedness is a great thing. I love working together with those who are reading from the same page as me. Having theological, philosophical, and relational unity in ministry is no small thing. For the ministry in our church, these seem to be concentric circles. The depth of ministry I have with others seems to filter through these circles.

However, there is a danger here that we must be aware of.  Our ministry can be limited by the least common denominator, which reduces the breadth and scope of our ministry. In other words, I only minister with or learn from those like me. If we are to stay Kingdom-minded, we must never allow our little kingdoms to rise against the Kingdom. We need to be careful of this locally in our town in relation to other gospel believing brothers and churches, but also as a movement of churches.

Almost sub-consciously a church or movement can become insular in relation to outside churches. It is always easier to work with and have connections to those who are like us. In the long run, this can have harmful consequences. Over time secondary issues (doctrines) morph into primary issues (doctrines). It seems safe to say that no church or movement is truly self-aware. Just as individuals require relationships with those unlike them to help them see their blind spots, a church or movement comprised of individuals would also need such illuminating relationships.

If we enshrine our views on secondary issues, then those who do not hold those views become classed as unfaithful to Scripture and are villainised. We begin to fear their views rather than be challenged by them. We begin to canonise our theology as ‘the’ true theology.

Others are then compared by our standards and what began as desire for accuracy in biblical interpretation turns to elitism. Paul speaking of those who make themselves the true measure of orthodoxy speaks insightfully in 2 Corinthians 10:12, “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”

It is healthy for us as church leaders to bear in mind that we all have blind spots, and someone who holds another perspective shines light on an issue in a way that I may have been previously blind to. If I am not teachable in this respect, what does that say about me? By teachability, I am not implying a lack of conviction on things, but humility in the reality that I see through a glass dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). The nature of the diversity of the body of Christ (and I include here diversity in theology within orthodoxy) means we can see more clearly corporately than we can individually.

As a closing illustration, look at this picture. Many of you will have seen it before. What do you see? Multiple perspectives shine light on the nature of the image. Is this an old lady, or is this a young woman? Is it one to the exclusion of the other? Is your appreciation of the image enriched by a different perspective? Our appreciation of God and his Word should be enriched by orthodox perspectives that may be different from our own.

 

 

2 replies
  1. Benjamin Morrison
    Benjamin Morrison says:

    matt –

    this is an excellent post and a timely word of warning. truly, if we cease to believe that we can learn from others who are different than us (though within the bounds of orthodox christianity), we have already made ourselves the only standard to measure ourselves by and this will inevitably lead to self-righteousness. this reminds me of the words of cs lewis on friendship, “Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest… The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”

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