Mike Cope's blog

Monday, May 03, 2004

Most of us don't like paradox and tension. We like our theology nice and clean. We like to know who's in and who's out. Growing up, it was easy. You had to have the RIGHT position on baptism: the right amount of water, the right age (accountability), the right reason ("for remission of sins" -- usually nothing mentioned about "to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"), and the right prerequisites (hear, believe, repent, and confess). You also had to have the right understanding of the church (date of origin, organization, etc.), the right kind of worship (five "acts" involving weekly communion, and acappella singing), and so on. Readers of this blog who aren't from the Churches of Christ won't understand all that. But trust me, you have your own version! The borders were clear. We were right; others were wrong. Now, I don't believe that. I don't believe people are lost just because they don't share my understanding of various passages. We are saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus -- not by our ability to exegete texts. Thank God for that! No wonder so many people went to their deathbeds worried about going to hell. So some have assumed I don't believe in baptism any longer. Far from it. I love the things written in a recent booklet from ACU Press by Jeff Childers and in a recent book by John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor. But here's the catch: I don't think you have to agree with me on everything in order to follow Jesus. He is clearly working in the lives of people who drastically disagree with what I believe on some issues. I'm not an agnostic about their faith, either. I'm not saying, "Well, maybe God will be merciful on others." Nope. I'm saying, "These are my brothers and sisters in Jesus." People in whom the fruit of the Holy Spirit is clearly being produced. We have some differences of opinion--even on things that are very important to me--but we are part of the one body of Christ. It is the height of arrogance (often fueled by fear) to believe that WE got it right and in order to follow him you must follow US.

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