Pastor's Blog

For most of the two and a half centuries of America’s existence, Christian ideas and values -- Protestant ideas and values in particular -- have dominated in the public square.  It’s only been in my own lifetime that Protestant influence has waned and weakened.

Protestantism tends to individualize religion, partly because that has been the nature of Protestantism from the start, and partly because the America Protestantism created encouraged a strongly individualistic approach to life.

Because Protestants were safe from external persecution, we all honed and fine-tuned our theological beliefs and we tended to split into more particularly defined churches and denominations, sometimes anathematizing each other and seeing each other as enemies of the truth.

We are now like a herd of antelope or wildebeest, successfully scattered across the savanna by the hyenas and lions that are working to pick us off in our isolated weakness.

We need to circle the wagons, as it were, and face a common enemy – the real enemy.  But that means we need to find ways to reconnect with each other, and we are so accustomed to disconnecting over particular beliefs, writing each other off and refusing to fellowship over differences that lack real substance, that we don’t know how to unite again.  We don’t feel right doing it.  Compromise has become a four-letter word to us.

There are times that compromise is dangerous.
But there are also times where compromise is necessary and is a part of reasonable love.

In my last blog I suggested that we will have trouble uniting over a common inner religious experience, that unity must be built around something external that we all choose to agree to. 

The important part about functioning as a community is not complete agreement about every detail, but about crucial central points.  There are things we cannot compromise on without destroying the nature and character of the Christian faith.  These are what evangelicals at the turn of the century called the fundamentals and that’s why they were originally called fundamentalists.

The problem was that groups started multiplying their fundamentals and that caused them to separate from one another.

We need to be able to somehow get back to fundamentals.  What is fundamental to Christianity – what must we hold in common without compromise – and what areas of thought and practice are secondary upon which we can differ?

I think that is a discussion that desperately needs to be engaged if we are to stand against the enemy that is prowling, stalking, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5.8)

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