The first ten years of my Christian experience were spent in what I have come to realize were pretty dysfunctional faith communities. Subsequent to leaving those communities I developed a severe antipathy to anything smacking of what I have come to describe as the “evangelical/fundamentalist sub-culture”. In my attempt to divest myself of a toxic fundamentalism I tried rejecting Christianity itself.
It took five years and the patient, accepting environment of a Baptist church in the community where we now live to heal from the cultural fundamentalism that had become intellectually and emotionally untenable for me. These folks let me work through my issues, never judging or getting in my face and telling me “that you just need to get right with God”. About three years ago at Cornerstone, God graciously showed me that it was all right to not have it all figured out and that one could be on the cutting edge culturally and still be a committed Christian. God allowed me to realize that I didn't have to reject Christianity in order to reject fundamentalism. I don't mean orthodoxy; I mean the abusive and rigid forms of Christianity that I'd been involved with in the past. What's important is recognizing that Jesus Christ is very God of very God and that His death secured for me, through the grace of God the Father and the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sin and a right relationship with the Creator of all things. Everything else is peripheral...
Now in a very real sense, not everything else is peripheral. There is a need to guard the historic doctrines of the faith. What is peripheral are the issues that are not related to the Person of Jesus Christ, who He is and what His death and resurrection accomplished.
I have theological distinctives that I am comfortable with but I do not make them points of fellowship. Some folks might find it amusing or odd that a five-point, infralapsarian, cessationist Calvinist is quite comfortable worshipping on a weekly basis with a local Vineyard congregation. But when talking about my faith I don’t describe myself as a Calvinist or Reformed, or even born-again (a term which has loaded social, cultural, and religious baggage). I am simply a follower of Jesus Christ and am quite happy to associate with a group of folks who are honest and sincere in living out their faith in their communities, in their workplaces, and in all that they do.
The first question in the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Standards asks:
What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
We are called to magnify and bring glory to God in everything that we do. There is no sacred or secular distinction if we are followers of Jesus Christ. Everything we do has a high and holy purpose if we consider ourselves children of the Most High God, redeemed and sanctified by the blood of His precious Son. All we do, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, is ministry. Our lives are to be poured out in service, in everything that we do, to the One who has called us to Himself. But in this writer’s humble opinion, a fundamental weakness in modern Western Christianity is the tendency to compartmentalize life between the sacred (what i do on Sunday)and the secular (what i do the rest of the week).