Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Contending for the faith
There seems to be a lot of contention and strife in theological circles these days. The blogosphere is replete with blogs that contend with various doctrinal positions and persons. Some of them are quite heated and unkind in language. I suppose that this blog falls into that category however I try not to be really nasty…. Well, maybe sometimes I am too blunt but, offending is not my intent… well, maybe I have intended to offend some as I think back but, I can honestly state that being nasty and offensive to people has never been my goal. The phrase, contending for the faith, comes from Jude 1:3. The author writes that he had hoped to encourage them about their common salvation but, found it necessary to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. It is assumed that he meant the gospel and story as it was told by Jesus and his apostles. Actually, this is a safe assumption.
I just did a Google search and there is 172,000 sites that are listed by the keywords *contending for the faith.* Interestingly, on the first results page there are sites that claim the phrase but do not agree. Surprise!!! Right! So, you might ask what is your take on this phrase? Well, I am thinking about a couple of different issues. Which faith is contended for and, should we contend for the faith at all? There is a lot of contention between what I will call the evangelical/fundamental/orthodox wing of Christianity and, what has become known as the emergent conversation or emergent Christianity.
There is a large segment of the later that questions that one should contend at all. Their view is that Jesus calls us to love and turn the other cheek. They see contending as unloving and distracting. I am not sure how I feel about this idea since I am still processing it. This much is certain; Jesus was very contentious on various occasions when dealing with the Pharisees and their theology.
There is a phrase used often in presidential politics… bully pulpit. Interesting choice of words bully pulpit and yet, there are literally hundreds of thousands of pulpits around the world that are routinely used for bullying. I personally do not think that this is a proper use of the pulpit but sadly it is a fact.
Back to the meaning of contending for the faith; what should be the meaning and what is worth contending for? It seems to me that anyone naming the name of Jesus Christ or connecting faith in him to their faith and practice should be very interested in the teachings of Jesus. So then, the emergent believers are right… it should be about love and loving. But, I think that at the very least it ought to include some of the theological teachings of Jesus as well; Especially his view of scripture. Jesus was most certainly not a sola scriptura person and he did not see the scripture as the word of God. He revered the scripture… he spoke of its faithfulness and inspiration but, he defined the word of God as the gospel and himself. I am not sure that contending is necessary but I would say that vigorous debate and discussion is called for.
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