So – back to Restoration Thinking. I have repeatedly been thinking about the structure of the heritage that I grew up in. I adored many men and women of faith, mostly in my small environment of North Alabama growing up. But as I continue to grow, read, and pray, I understand that I was exposed to a fairly small fish tank. Not that there was inherently anything wrong with that, but in fact, it was almost an inbred spiritual family; in which the challenged thought or genuine question of interpretation of scripture was often refused and/or quickly dismissed as immature.
As I read Barton Stone and David Lipscomb particularly, I find in these men a type of thinking that refused to be boxed in by man-made barriers. They stood on scripture, as the only truly authoritative standard by which they would state their convictions, and quite literally would stake their complete faith in God’s word, and not on the reputation they would have in others’ eyes.
When Christians read and study the word of God (and we MUST read and truly study, in context), we must try to read the way the readers would have read it. There is no way we can know what their questions would have been, to which Paul or the other writers would be replying, nor the lenses of cultural environment through which they perceived the letters. But one thing we can do, is pray, read, study, and make a stand. Knowing in our hearts that God will judge us, and that he wants our complete devotion and obedience; including self-sacrifice, holiness, and contrition because of our sins. However, the joy of His grace overwhelms us! To the point that the weight of our sinful past becomes light.
There’s a great, great scene in Toy Story, the first great digital animation by Disney’s Pixar Studios. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were superb, and there’s a “fight scene” where Woody (the cowboy doll) is so angry at Buzz Lightyear (the Space Ranger toy), that Buzz simply cannot or will not realize that he is really a toy. There is a point in which Woody “loses it”, and totally frustrated with Buzz for Buzz’s saying, “I must go, I’ll be late to report to Star Command.” Woody has had it! He screams, “YOU ARE A TOOOO-EEEEEY!!! You’re not the real Buzz Lightyear, doh… well you’re an action figure!!!” Buzz calmly looks at Woody and with straight face, says, “You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.” That is unfortunately the way many of our brothers react when some nearly want to scream for their lack of open-heartedness; as if they are so blinded by their concrete “knowledge” of good standing, that they can’t see the “Mattel” printed on their arms. Yet they are so perfectly sure that they are standing firmly in the foundation of the Apostles of 2000 years ago. The strange thing is, you can’t draw a straight line ANYWHERE in the descendence of the early Christian church. Specifically I’m referring to those who judge and withdraw themselves from others, based on things that they do with the silence of scripture. I remember seeing numerous diagrams when I was a kid, the “tree” of Christendom and denominations. The off-shoots and curvy branches began with the Apostate followers in the 3rd century. The straight line at the bottom? The never-bending, unrelenting, never-changed church? Yep, that’s where I grew up. Just ask me, I can prove it.
I am not intending to be antagonistic with this post. I truly do cherish my heritage for many great lessons, spiritual backbone, and memory work. I just want to be real! I need HELP being real! I don’t want to construct my own straw man of Christian faith and then bow down do it in reverence. Father, may you bless us all with humble hearts and the willingness to grow with an openness to the word. May your Spirit dwell within us, and daily lead us back to you.