this post is a continuation of our basics series in which i seek to articulate for my readers where i stand on some of the more basic theological tenants. as stated in my post yesterday, my intent is to develop a sort of ‘water-line’ for future conversations here the WayWard follower, particularly as it relates to my current understanding of the orthodox tenants of my christian faith.
but before i put myself in the theological hot seat, i want to share three fundamental commitments which have helped shape my doctrinal perspective. although i recognize the importance of theology and doctrine, i am increasingly made more acutely aware of the importance of certain commitments and convictions in how i view the world and my role in it as an ambassador of reconciliation.
for that purpose, and in the spirit of the apostle paul’s discourse on the primary position of love combined with my core conviction that without a commitment to others our faith is just a noisy imitation and its value is reduced to nothing, i begin with the following commitments of a way of being, informed by scripture and the combined wisdom of more mature believers than myself ::
commitment to God in the way of jesus.
i am committed to doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God. in the words of jesus, i am seeking to live by what he taught to be the greatest commandment :: loving God and loving my neighbors || including those who might be considered the ‘least of these’ or my enemies. i understand the gospel to be centered in jesus and his message of the kingdom of God, a message offering reconciliation with God, humanity, creation and self.
i am committed to what has been called a ‘generous orthodoxy’ in both faith and practice — affirming the historic christian faith and the biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree.
this plays out practically in my commitment to understand the gospel in terms of jesus’ radical, profound and expansive message of the kingdom of God; to participate in the historic christian faith as a humble learner, seeking to stimulate learning in others and giving priority to love over knowledge, even while still valuing knowledge. in my pursuit of knowledge, i humbly desire to engage in respectful, thoughtful, sacred conversation about God, the world and the church with a diverse and theologically varied chorus of voices.
commitment to the church in all its forms.
i am committed to honoring and serving the church in all its forms — orthodox, roman catholic, protestant, pentecostal and anabaptist. i desire to practice a ‘deep ecclesiology’ — rather than favoring some forms of the church while rejecting or critiquing others, i am convinced that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, each with liabilities and potential.
i believe the rampant injustices and sin in our world requires the sincere, collaborative and wholehearted response of all christians in every denomination. i affirm both the value of strengthening, renewing and transitioning existing churches and organizations and the need for planting, resourcing and coaching new ones in various expressions — some of which have yet to be explored.
i am committed to the irenic and inclusive engagement of all my christian sisters and brothers, rather than being elitist and critical. i own the failures of myself and the faith communities of which i am a part, which brings me to humility and repentance, while i am simultaneously inspired and hopeful in the shadow of the many heroes and virtues in the local church.
this plays out practically in my commitment to being actively and positively involved in my local congregation, while maintaining open definitions of ‘church’ and ‘congregation.’ i desire to work in and with churches, seeking to live out authentic christian faith in authentic christian community. i am committed to building sincere friendship with christians from other faith traditions in the spirit of seeking ecumenical peace. as a peace maker among fellow followers of christ, the critique i offer ought to be done only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace and without judgment, avoiding rash statements and repenting when harsh statements have been made. i seek to speak positively of fellow christ followers whenever possible, particularly those with whom i disagree.
commitment to God’s world.
i am committed to practice my faith mission in community – not in isolation from this world, but rather as a participant in the ministry of reconciliation as i walk with others and we together follow christ into the world.
i am committed to teaching that the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; that we ought to seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else.
i am committed to seeing the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and i so join God in seeking its good, its healing and its blessing.
this plays out practically in my commitment to build relationships with my neighbors and to seek their good; to seek reconciliation with my enemies and to make peace with them; to encourage and cherish younger people and to proactively learn from older people; to build deep and sincere friendships across gender, religious, ethnic, racial, economic and other perceived boundaries; and to be involved at all times in at least one issue or cause of peace and justice in the world on behalf of the oppressed.
these commitments, informed by scripture and the combined wisdom of other believers, will hopefully steer my understanding and interpretation of the essential matters of faith and doctrine.
what do you think?