Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Narrow-minded? Or confident?

The headline in Doug Todd's recent article in the Vancouver Sun about the owner of Banyen Books is a bit misleading, referring as it does to Christians' needing to be more "open-minded" about their faith. The piece makes for some interesting reading, and while there are some things I simply don't agree with, it should make for some provocative discussion among churches.

One area, for example, is Kolin Lymworth's suggestion is that more churches get involved in social matters -- like food banks and outreach. At first, I bristled, because my own work on the Downtown East Side is Christ-centered and Westpointe Christian Centre, where I fellowship, is one of the most outreach-focused churches you could find. Yet that's been one of the great frustrations of the work so far: encouraging other "suburban" churches to even consider the DTES as a mission field. (Case in point: trying to get articles on the matter -- or even news releases about Gospel Mission -- published in BC Christian News - I don't even get acknowledgement of receipt.)

He also calls on Christians to explore the "mysticism" of the faith more. It's hard to say what he means by that: there are intense spiritual experiences such as healings, prophecies and spiritual warfare - the very things that drew me to Christ in the first place - and that amazing experience called "basking in God's glory", but experiences like those are not meant for our own personal use, but to translate into power that can be used to bless others.

Lymworth's experience -- as is the case with so many of this generation (myself included) -- is very self-centered. We ask, "what can the church do for me?", when the whole idea of Christian fellowship is based on "what can I do for the church?", recognizing that the "church" is neither a building nor an institution, but a collection of people who need one another as much as they need God and Jesus. Jesus never said, "if you go into a sweatlodge, there am I in the midst of it": He said, "where two or more are gathered in My Name ...."

We try to find God through ourselves, when really, it's the other way around. We focus on The Experience as if "resting in Him" were the end in itself, rather than simply a means to re-charge and continue serving.

Buried in the article is the classic red herring: Christians have to be open-minded. Certainly, it helps to re-think doctrine in the light of Scripture and separate what is the Word of God and what is the embellishment of man, but is it not more narrow-minded to reject the notion that there is an single, absolute Truth -- Jesus -- the Way, the Truth and the Life? After all, if one accepts that 1 + 1 = 2, is it narrow-minded to reject that 1 + 1 might, at some point equal 3?

The article notes that Kolin Lymworth walked away from the church due to lack of interest at age 10. Since then, he's tried a variety of different "paths" (including LSD) in his search for whatever it is he's seeking. My prayer is that he takes another look at where he started from -- only this time, with the open mind he wishes on Christians.

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