When we explore ideas that push the boundary of our faith this question arises….how far is too far? How open is too open? How liberal is to liberal? I think in our developing world of “enlightenment” and free thought aka “wokeness” we have a highly influential doorway that willingly invites us to follow after whatever we see as comfortably true to us. Instead of studying and adhering to the faith tradition for which we ascribe to; we instead opt for this a la cart belief system. It takes a little bit of this from here, a little bit of that from there and creates an entree size plate for us to feast on. On the other hand, many people have lived a linear life of thought that has no entry point of challenge to their existing beliefs. They are single and close-minded when it comes to exploring new and transformative thoughts that could grow them in a positively developed state of being.
So where’s the balance? How can one stay open to transformative external thoughts but remain unwavering in existing foundational beliefs? Are there any things off limits? Well, in my eyes – for the Christian – the short answer is yes! But before I touch on that, first let me say we all ascribe to a belief system – whether we like to admit it or not. Even those that proclaim to be non-religious but “spiritual” have formulated some internal belief construct that leads and guides their lives. Oftentimes – these individuals make themselves as the god of their lives; creating their own standards, judgements and rules of life. For the Christian believer, we signed up not to live this way but to have Jesus as our God to create the standard, truth and way of life.
Now there has been much debate since dawn of time of what specifically this “way” is…However, at the very core of our belief should be the non-negotiable facts and beliefs. And that is that Jesus: physically walked the earth in human form, lived a sinless life, proclaimed He was and is the Messiah/God, was publicly crucified and died on the cross (willingly as a sacrifice for our sins), was resurrected on the third day, and promises the gift of eternal life with Him in paradise for all who repent of their sins and believe He is God. This is the basic core of our faith – this should not be something that you allow others to re-define or create liberal views on. Should you decide to allow your beliefs about this to change by all means, you should consider changing your faith declaration altogether. Because at this point, it is no longer Christianity, but a re-defined, remixed version of something else. Now there are other core tenets of the faith that are also non-negotiable but for the sake of time I will not espouse on those. I mainly wanted to get the number one core belief established in case someone out there was wandering if any of that part could be flexible in regards to their beliefs as a self-proclaimed Christian.
Now for what I’d like to call secondary tenets such as charitable giving, days of worship, the end times, divorce, parenting, etc. those are all non-essential debatable things that are certainly up for pushing the boundary. Having said that, we should still do our best as believers to first search the scriptures of the written text (aka Bible) to study both the descriptive and possible prescriptive declaration. If we first turn to culture to see what it is saying to us (and allowing for us), then we are more than likely pushing the boundaries of “going too far.” While cultures do evolve over the course of time, they should not be our God or teacher when it comes to our faith. We can take the current climate of culture and study it against the biblical culture to see what is descriptive of the (ancient) times and what is prescriptive of the life of faith in Christ.
If the prescriptive is true, when we willingly decide to bend out faith to accommodate our “liberal thought” then we’ve gone too far. Oftentimes this liberal thinking is not enlightenment but a convenient accommodation to our pleasures, desires and comforts that support what ultimately we want to do and the agenda we want to push. This agenda is usually self-serving and rooted in ego, arrogance and lack of willingness to change. For some of you listening or reading this who disagree, I challenge you to truly examine yourself against any narcissistic exaltation. If you truly are “about that life” – meaning the life of Christ- what is the ultimate end game for your views?
I met someone who was a self-proclaimed Christian who was adamant about exposing the church and its lack of bending to say “maybe we are wrong” to non-believers. While I did support the push for more humility among believers, I also pushed back on why this person felt like it was their sole goal in life to dismantle and tear down the body of Christ. This person also said they were jealous of Scientology believers because they liked spaceships and they wanted one – so why do we (as believers) say that they are wrong because why does everything have to glorify God? Huh?! This is too far! When asked if they were a universalist they told me no and that I wasn’t hearing what they said clearly. No – I heard very clearly. I heard the dibble of this and dabble of that in your conversation and while I appreciate the open thought to challenge existing traditions and practices – you’ve gone too far.
At some point those who ascribe to the faith have to say enough is enough. In our modern days of being sensitive to other people’s views and not “offending” anyone – we still have to know the truth of our faith. And know when and how to speak the truth in love and stand firm in faith. I am all for new thought and revelation of the scriptural text when it comes to the secondary tenets of the faith but just like the age old saying if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.