Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A place of balance

I've been blogging since April and I've been attempting to find a role in this blogosphere since then. It's been hard enough finding commonality, although I hope you've found me charitable in my dealings with people who differ from me.

I've always been a "big tent" kind of guy. When I launched an online missionary outreach on AOL and IRC in 1995, I made sure I had resources all over the country from all kinds of churches. I was prepared to send those newbies to any church they wanted to go to, as long as it was Bible based. Being a "charismatic lite," I didn't want to impose my worldview on them. I just wanted people to hear (read) and receive the Gospel. Hundreds of hours of long-distance phone calls later, many spent interviewing church pastors from a breadth of backgrounds, I can affirm the Body of Christ exists beyond denominations.

With this in mind, I always assumed the other side of the Evangelical fence had a similar perspective. At least in general. For example, an SBC member may not agree with the role I've assigned to the Holy Spirit in everyday life, but I've met few who were wholly resistant to the idea of a big, active God in this world. My personal experience with others beyond my own theological circles, outside of online life, was always fruitful. I have many friends, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presby -- we all agree on the Gospel, so we all choose to separate the necessary from the unnecessary. I've never debated anyone on something like church polity. The experiential has never been a dividing point, although they are quick to exam my experience out of curiosity.

It has come as a great surprise to me to find so many Christians in the blogosphere not just critical of my side of the fence, but ready and willing to call me a heretic for what I consider methodology. I'm not a pew jumper. I believe I have a very Biblical view of worship, one that is consistent with conservative theology, if not conservative methodology.

My error, I am commonly told, is I put the wrong emphasis on the Holy Spirit in its place in Trinity. From this point of view, I put the Holy Spirit at the front of the Godhead, not merely on equal grounds with the persons of the Father and the Son.

First, as Trinitarians, I'm a little baffled how one can unequally worship three persons of one God. By any name, we are clearly talking about the same God. We baptize in the names of all three, and all three persons are deserving of worship. However, God has chosen to interact with us on this planet in the person of the Holy Spirit, through the glory of Jesus Christ, for the glory of the Father:
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
This is not my view, but Jesus' own words. When I call on the Holy Spirit, I am not putting the other two persons of the Godhead on a lesser pedestal. If anything, I believe I am doing as Jesus told us to do in John 7:37-39.

I think it's one thing to be a cessationist. I respect this view and wish no debate with those that hold to it. I do not consider myself either superior or inferior to someone with this position. I think it's entirely another thing to believe in an active God in the world today and also criticize those that seek interaction with the Spirit, as the early Church did. In this position, I believe Christians are not putting enough emphasis on the Holy Spirit as a member of the Godhead. In some cases, to members of this theological train of thought, the Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Bible.

There is a place of balance, I believe, with experience and the Word. I don't claim to rest in the center of it, I only strive to go there. The Word is God's message to us and the Spirit guides us in its truth. The Word is our measuring stick for life, but we empowered to live by the Spirit. The Word is God speaking to us with His hope, and the Spirit ministers God's hope to us.

One does not exist without the other.

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