Where is the line?
Where is the line? The line which if crossed means I do not believe the person I am talking to should be a minister in Christ’s Church, because I am not even sure they are followers of Christ Jesus. And I really do have a line!
I come from the more ‘fundamental’ part of the church. Although I am not at all convinced that those ‘fundamentals’ were all that fundamental. I might be described as more ‘orthodox’, although, while I know what that term means, I am not at all sure that’s how we use it. In all honesty
I prefer to avoid all labels. But for all intents and purposes others would describe me as Evangelical. And if by this they mean that I preach the gospel and invite people to lay the wrong things they have done at the feet of Jesus, giving assurance that Jesus forgives the wrong things that we do, then I am indeed Evangelical. They may also suggest I am Charismatic (big ‘C’) – meaning I believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned and modelled in the New Testament are for the church today. Again, I am happy with the label. Although, I get a little upset when described as mildly Charismatic, being I don’t think the Holy Spirit is ‘mildly’ anything. So I am happy to be wildly Charismatic or even passionately Charismatic, but I’m not doing anything ‘mildly’.
I am also a prisoner of hope. And believe that our currency is grace. I am also Anglican, and thoroughly enjoy the wide umbrella of worship styles that the Anglican communion holds together. I try my best to accommodate, although there are a lot of services I don’t understand, a range of clothing choices I find slightly strange and outdated and I am never going to work out the choreography to do an Anglo-Catholic service well. But that doesn’t seem to cause difficulty – other than the occasional gentle sigh. But where there is some indignation, it is from my colleagues over the fact that I will not take sides on debates around gender or sexuality. My policy is not to have a policy, other than a policy that says everyone can belong. Many of my colleagues sign petitions, write open letters, and get very worked up.
So where is the line? The line which if crossed means I do not believe the person I am talking to should be a minister in Christ’s Church, because I am not even sure they are followers of Christ Jesus!
The line is the event we celebrate on this day. It’s called Resurrection. I BELIEVE IN THE BODILY RESURRECTION of Jesus. It is my FUNDAMENTAL. It is my measure of ORTHODOX.
“You put to death the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” Acts 3:15.
It is pivotal to the preaching of the followers of Jesus in the book of Acts. It is the fundamental truth preached throughout church history. It is central to the Apostle Paul’s doctrine in Corinthians. Paul goes as far as to say, if the Resurrection didn’t happen then it is all a waste of time (gentle paraphrase, but read 1 Corinthians 15). But for Paul if you take away Resurrection then the whole pack of cards comes tumbling down.
And there is my line. Christian ministers who do not believe in Resurrection may well make exceptionally good social workers, but they have no business being mediators of the gospel. And they do exist. It is presented by many as a sign of intellectual superiority, “oh of course I don’t believe in the resurrection.” And while we can’t stop them publishing their pseudo-intellectual nonsense in their books, they really should not be allowed behind a pulpit.
Because it is so important. We are called to preach love and joy and peace and hope. And the RESURRECTION means we can do that. And to remove the resurrection is to remove the power of the gospel. Let me explain.
You see, if the Resurrection is possible, then everything is possible. Light can overcome darkness. Good can overcome evil. Justice can overcome injustice. The truth can overcome lies. The oppressed can be set free. Broken hearts can be healed. There really can be peace where now there is war. There really can be reconciliation where now there is only separation. There really can be joy and celebration where now there is only pain. Because the Resurrection is possible, everything is possible. And because ultimately grace and compassion and love really do win.
So depression can be lifted, because if Resurrection is possible, all things are possible. The marriage that looks like it is over, and maybe they should call it a day, I disagree, because if Resurrection is possible, all things are possible. That intolerable pain that people say will never go away? If Resurrection is possible, all things are possible.
The Resurrection says that with God all things are possible.
That’s why it’s my line. It’s where our authority to preach comes from. It’s why we pray for the sick. It’s why miracles happen all the time. Resurrection.
You put to death the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. Acts 3:15