By Mark A. Taylor
“We all seemed to be on the same page,” Bob Russell wrote me after last week’s Beyond the Standard BlogTalkRadio program. “Maybe that made for boring listening, but it makes for a stronger brotherhood!”
His comment sowed a new thought for me. Should I be looking for opposing points of view among the guests who appear on these monthly programs? For this episode, could I have found Christian leaders to disagree with “We’re not the only Christians, but we are Christians only”?
Maybe. At least one comment about CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s March issue, devoted to that centuries-old motto, accused us of compromising truth and diluting conviction.
So I repeated a question to our panel that several had answered in our print issue. “How do we keep balance? How do we maintain openness to believers from other traditions without compromising our core convictions?”
Bob Russell responded, “Years ago I would have said we’re too sectarian. But now we’re in danger of the pendulum swinging the other way. We’re in danger of losing our distinctives that need to be adhered to.”
Rick Grover warned against making our movement the focus. Unless we put Jesus first, he said, “we’re automatically putting up walls. . . . Our movement is a scaffolding for the advancement of Jesus, not the advancement of our own tradition,” he said.
“Inevitably we have to have scaffolding,” Paul Blowers added. The challenge is advancing the cause of Christ “without building so much scaffolding that you’re locked inside it.”
He reflected on the fact that Christian churches and churches of Christ say they’re not creedal. “But you have to have some kind of core confession,” Blowers said. “We need not be dogmatic, but coherent and clear about what we do confess. Everything rotates around Christology.”
With that all of us can agree. And I, for one, don’t think it’s boring at all.
You can listen to this episode of Beyond the Standard, recorded March 20, by clicking here. Bob Russell, retired minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Rick Grover, pastor with East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana; and Paul Blowers, Dean E. Walker professor of church history at Emmanuel School of Religion, Johnson City, Tennessee, discussed the theme, “Not the Only Christians.”
Go to the program’s home page to discover a list of archived episodes that will challenge and encourage your ministry.