Early last year I received an email from someone who'd visited our church. In the email they asked me a pretty loaded question: "My partner and I have visited a couple of times and are wondering if your church welcome homosexuals?" My response was probably not what they were wanting to hear, but it was the truth. I told the person: "Anyone is welcome at The Brook. Our desire is to share the love of Christ with everyone. That said, we firmly believe that part of that 'love' is boldly proclaiming His Word and holding firmly to the truth of scripture. And we believe that scripture clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. You will hear that taught and preached at The Brook, just like you will hear that adultery and lying and drunkenness and cheating on your taxes is sin as well." Again, I am fully aware that this is not the response they were looking for. But the reality is, this is not just an issue that arises with a person struggling (or settling) with homosexuality. In truth, an enormous percentage of nominal Christians want to simply say, "I'm not really concerned about theology and doctrine. I just love Jesus. Can't we all just agree on that?" And the very simple answer to that incredibly naive question is "No".
This issue resurfaced yesterday when someone who was visiting The Brook shared that they really liked it here - especially that their kids loved being in our Children's Ministry - BUT they were concerned that we might not see eye-to-eye on some doctrinal issues. Major Issues. Like creation and evolution. Issues that call the validity and integrity of Genesis - and ALL of scripture - into question. Apparently they had come from a church that held to a "loose interpretation of the biblical account of creation". (Not being part of this conversation, I'm not really sure where or when their red flag went up since I was preaching out of Revelation. But something alerted them to the fact that we might not be on the same page in some major areas of theology.) I'm seriously hoping and praying to be able to have a conversation with this person (couple or family) for a couple of reasons:
First off, I believe that while we may disagree on Day/Age Theory - that the first "day" wasn't a 24 hour day, but a period of time - that's one thing. But to start leaning - or in their case, having jumped off the cliff - into Theistic Evolution - that God created, but He chose to do it through evolution - puts us on 2 completely different sides of an enormous chasm. [To call the Creation account - that "God made man in His own image" - into question, calls ALL of scripture into question. Think about it: Did God come to earth as a monkey only to "evolve" into the "Son of Man"?] I hope to have an opportunity to explain to them why I believe their theology is incredibly dangerous.
And second, with all the love in my heart and with every ounce of compassion and grace the Lord gives me, I would encourage them that, if this is firmly the belief they hold to, we are definitely NOT the right church for them. Doctrine is that important. Theology is that vital! And that's what has shaken me to the point of needing to say this:
To hear "Christians" ignorantly say things like, "I'm just not concerned about theology" is not only alarming, it's frightening. We have to comprehend what's actually being said:
I'm a "child of God", but I don't really care about the "study of God".
I'm a "child of God", but I really don't care about actually KNOWING Him.
I'm a Christ-follower, but just don't bother myself with understanding what it actually means or looks like to follow Christ.
Are we serious?
It doesn't work this way. It also doesn't hold water to say things like, "I don't really care much about the Old Testament. I mean, we're living in the New Covenant, right?" Uh, no. Actually yes, but no. To begin to understand that the Gospel is the whole message and story of the redemptive history of the God of all creation reconciling people back to Himself through His Son - and that the Old Testament is just as much a part of that story as the New Testament - we come to the conclusion that scripture - from Genesis to Revelation - are the life-giving, mind-transforming words of God. They are Truth. They are LIFE!
If you're looking for a church - for a new church home - a church "family" to belong to - doctrine and theology aren't important; they're essential!
And if you're a Christian - a follower of Jesus Christ - theology is not something that should trouble or bother you; it should CONSUME you! The opportunity to know and to understand the God of the Universe - to know Him more today than we did yesterday (as feeble and minuscule as our attempts may seem) - is a privilege we don't deserve. But we've been given this opportunity because of the Cross of Jesus Christ and because of the power of His Holy Spirit illuminating scripture, piercing our hearts, and transforming our minds.