Eclectic Ecclesiology

If the definition for eclectic is “selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods or styles” then count me in!  I am an eclectic Christian!  Please don’t interpret that as having no conviction or sound theology.  Please don’t assume it to be a floaty, new agey sort of “all paths lead to God” way of thinking.  It is just the place I have landed after living long enough to have a history that has watched trends come and go, leaders rise and fall in the spotlight and people run to follow the newest thing on the market.

As a new believer in Christ back in the 70’s I was all about having a ‘real’ relationship with Jesus that wasn’t following boring church traditions.  Young people wanting to know who Jesus Christ was were tired of seeing the apathy with which it seemed the older generation was experiencing when they sang the same songs, recited the same prayers, went through the same motions that they had been taught in church for generations.  We were wanting to experience radical, life-transforming, genuine Christianity and we didn’t want dead religion.  It was all well and good to have the zeal but somewhat self-righteous for us to assume and sum up that all of the above mentioned was centered in apathy.  Could there not be some who meant what they prayed, sang and practiced in their faith?  Nonetheless a movement was started and with it has come some good and some bad.

So Christianity marched forward with new and fresh music.  We brought in drums, guitars and contemporary worship started ruling the day.  We lifted our hands, we fell on our faces.  We poured onto the streets to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring others to the kingdom.  A fire was lit and people began to get caught up in the Jesus Movement of the day.  Jesus was where it was at.  Many got caught up in the new fad of Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some great things that God did during that time.  Many came to Christ and went deep continuing on in their faith, yet many followed Him as the popular fad of the day and after it all died down so did their desire to follow Him.  We had Assembly and charismatic churches growing as well as non-denominational, Community and Bible churches..  You name it, if it was anything other than mainline denomination, that was where it was at.  Not wanting to be left out many of them as well began changing their services and style.  Once again, not all the changes were bad, some even necessary, some just a fad.

Years passed and a new season entered.  It is no surprise that with any movement in time, the flaws will begin to show.  So it began.  We had people who supposedly had great conversion experiences begin to denounce that they were Christians when the going got tough.  They enjoyed the popularity of the Jesus experience but once the skepticism and the world beckoned they were done.  People got tired of the moral majority and smiling prosperity preachers proclaiming that God just wants everybody happy and prosperous.  It was beginning to look shallow and rightly so.  Once again there were questions being asked.  What does Christianity look like?  We left the apathetic boredom and now it was looking plastic and commercialized.  What did we miss?

We are now in a season of reformed thinkers.  It is interesting because when I observe the young and reformed I see where my generation was with the Jesus movement.  They are tired of watered down, apathetic, fake Christianity and rightly so.  They are tired of watching people say they are a Christian just because they recited a prayer.  Rightly so.  After all, come on, even the Bible teaches “it is by faith you are saved and not by works, lest any man should boast”.  If the sinner’s prayer is about anything other than repentance and faith then we make it a good luck charm to ensure holding off judgement from a righteous God.  We wonder if we have missed the mark.  Does God’s grace mean license to sin?  Does God choose His children or do they choose Him?

Here is where my eclectic Christianity comes in.  I think we spend too much time dividing our lines too tightly and I think we as Christians need each other and ought to find more ways to come together.  I read, study and ponder many of these theological issues.  I see God’s elect in scripture, I see God’s free will.  I see the need for the traditional and the contemporary.  I think it is much more about the depth of worship than the style.  I have two main hills I will die on and will not move off of in what I see as solid biblical truth.  That would be that Jesus Christ’s substitutionary  work on the cross for man’s sin is the only way to salvation (eternal life in heaven) and that the Bible is God’s inspired word and is without error.  These truths have been fought in various councils over the centuries and can be counted on to be true doctrines of the Christian faith.

As far as Christians go, I have friends from charismatic, reformed, mainline, house church, you name it.  I learn from them and they make me think.  We don’t agree on some doctrines but we’ve got the most important one down and that is Jesus.  Based on that alone, I would love to see Christ followers find more and more reasons to worship together, to join forces in showing Christ to a world who doesn’t know Him.  It seems so simple yet we make it so hard.  Can we stop dying on so many hills and decide which ones really matter?   What might that look like?  Are all these scriptures on unity in the body of Christ only pertaining to our immediate church home or is it broader to the fellowship of believers?  Maybe I am just an eclectic dreamer but…. maybe not?

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