Monday, February 28, 2011

Doctrinal Boot Camp

It is greatly encouraging to read something that echoes the word that God has being putting on my heart and in my reading and writing so often of late. This is Chuck Colson from Christianity Today:

"The psychology of boot camp is instructive. The first six weeks are spent—figuratively speaking, mostly—beating out of recruits every habit, attitude, and preconceived notion about life and the world. You are told you are worthless and are 'not a special snowflake,' as Campbell says. You are now part of the Marine Corps and will do what the drill instructor says. Period.

"After the drill instructors get rid of the old man—there's a good analogy—the instruction changes dramatically. They now tell you that you're a marine and can achieve anything if you live by the rules. Though it was half a century ago, I vividly remember what it meant to be a marine. I found confidence in myself that I'd never had before. But I also learned that the man next to me had my back. And I had his. We could trust each other with our lives. There was camaraderie, indeed a fellowship, unlike anything I've known since.

"This is what becoming a Christian means. We put off the old man, get rid of the old habits, and embrace a new set of beliefs and standards defined in Scripture and lived out over 2,000 years. Just like the Marine Corps, the church has learned what works and what doesn't, what is right and what is wrong. And the goal of Christian discipleship is to conform to the truths of the Christian faith, just as a marine has to conform to the truths of the corps.

"Come to think of it, isn't the church today in a far more serious battle than any the Marines have fought? Aren't we called to make disciples who will advance the kingdom of God in an extremely hostile world? Haven't we inherited 2,000 years of very hard-earned lessons? The more I've thought about the parallels, the more I am convinced that we have failed younger evangelicals and new believers generally. We have told them or at least implied that they can live happily ever after, that Christianity is all about what's good for them—not necessarily about what is true. Things just go better with Jesus.

"If we want to see revival in the church, we need to be at least as serious as the Marines are about preparing men and women for battle. Perhaps we ought to rethink Sunday school, dust off the catechisms, and start teaching the Bible and theology to our young people again. If the theologically attuned young Reformed crowd is any indication, they can handle it. But it's not just for Calvinists. Every successful Christian movement has embraced ways to effectively pass on the faith entrusted to the saints once for all."

"The church is looking for a few good men and women. Is anyone ready to enlist?"

This is going to become especially relevant in our generation. In large part, because some will de-emphasize its importance, or redefine its content. Some will avoid the parts of the Bible and the parts of Christian doctrine that seem to offend people. And while they think by doing this they are shielding believers, they will actually be crippling them. While they think they are wooing unbelievers, they actually will be robbing them of the most glorious message in the world. Tim Keller said, "Neglecting the unpleasant doctrines of the historic faith will bring about counter intuitive consequences. There is an ecological balance to scriptural truth that must not be disturbed."

More to come. Stay alert.