We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer: to redeem, to rescue, to discipline, in His work, and so will He continue to operate after this life. All men are his for either the Lord does not care for all men or He does care for all. For He is Savior; not of some and of others not and how is he Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all? For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe both generally and particularly. -Clement of Alexandria
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a young preacher. He was a nice guy, very passionate for the things of God. He’s freshly out of preaching school and eager to grow the church. I told him that I was a preacher, but recently stepped down from the pulpit because I could not longer endure the radical dogmatism in both attitude and theology in the institutional church. His facial expression let me know quite clear that he was shocked that I would say such a thing. After some insignificant church talk he commenced to tell me that he was very conservative and just did things by the Bible and wished that people would get back to the bible. He said his church was different and wasn’t interested in what everyone else was doing, but recently he preached a series of sermons on “denomination beliefs” inferring that his fellowship wasn’t a denomination. I found his statement to be quite bizarre to say the least. There were so many things that i wanted to say, but I refrained from doing so because he was a novice in ministry and i didn’t want to overload him. I affirmed him and thanked him for caring about people and wished him well in sharing the love of God. Before I left he asked if I’d like to study sometime and i said of course. I’m always interested in learning more and in discussing spiritual things.
This is what i wanted to ask him. What do you mean by conservative? According to who? Who determines what biblical beliefs are conservative and liberal? The church? The elders? You? The Bible? And if the Bible, are you interpreting it correctly to know emphatically that those beliefs are true? Do you see where this is going? It becomes a slippery slope. After he answered the questions I would ask him if Jesus was conservative, according to his definition? Since i know his fellowship, I know his answer would be yes. But Jesus wasn’t conservative!! He was a free loving teacher who reached out and loved everyone which is antithetical to the conservative mindset. During his ministry he shook the very foundations of religious sensibilities which threatened the beliefs and practices of the religious elite. Jesus confronted their long held tradition by showing and paving a new way of life; a life that’s predicated upon loving the unlovable. He was questioned and heckled by conservatives all throughout his ministry but never gave in. He always questioned the questioner which was a way to reveal their ignorance of the higher way. The problem with this dear brother is that he equates truth or conservatism to his religious upbringing. He sees no distinction and thus if one violates his preconceived understanding of the bible one is immediately considered to be a liberal or one who doesn’t respect biblical authority and pattern theology. I’m so thankful that God allowed me to meet certain people, read different books and have a spirit of curiosity that helped lead me out of this narrow-minded understanding. It’s, indeed, a breath of fresh air. I care for this brother and will be there for him as he studies and grows.