Missiology is not a spectator sport. When one studies mission and culture, it invariably means one’s own hands will get extremely dirty - this is unavoidable. I can sit from the sidelines all I want and tell people what it means to engage culture and people, but at some point, me, as a pastor at my future church, will have to chose how we will interact with our city at large.
In order to do this, one needs to have a doctrine and theology firmly held in an open hand - things you and I can disagree on, but still work together with (predestination, gender, worship style, etc.). But, in order to hold certain things with an open hand - there must be a close handed theology and doctrine (Jesus, cross, resurrection, etc.). For me, personally, as I analyze my close handed theology, it all falls under one umbrella - Jesus and the Gospel. We can disagree on a lot of things - maybe even hell (maybe). We need to agree on the Gospel and Jesus. If you don’t - we can’t work together. If you don’t - you may not be a brother or sister. If you don’t - we will love you, but we may not be able partner together - like hold an Easter service in a mosque. If this offends, I’m sorry…
Jesus is fully God and perfect man. You must have that in your closed hand. He came and lived as a human, a perfect life, in the power of the Holy Spirit, sent by His Father, God, to preach a message of sacrifice and repentance. This must be in your closed hand. Then, to fulfill the calling of His earthly days - He was crucified on the cross for the sins of the world (you and I), which you and I have committed and thus cannot be in relationship with a perfect God, and He rose again 3 days later to conquer sin and death. This is closed handed. Now, He is resurrected. He is alive because He defeated death. His resurrection sealed our ability to come to be a disciple of Jesus - if He just died, it wouldn’t have been enough. Now, we have new life. Now, we are a part of Jesus’ family - not because we earned it but because He loved us first. Jesus came, lived, died and rose again - and we have a choice to be a disciple or not. His resurrection means we can one day, see the resurrected Jesus face to face - as He has bought us back from death and redeemed us into eternal life with Him. This is closed handed.
Closed handed. Open handed. It matters.
This is the bare essentials of my closed handed theology and doctrine. If you can’t even come to this place of core, foundational beliefs - we may not be able to work together. I’m not really sorry for that (but I love you).
Missiology means walking the line of culture and gospel faithfully. You hold on dearly and lovingly to what is close handed and discuss - lovingly - what is open handed. This article is an example in bad missiology. It breaks my heart.
"I know that I don’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus but I do believe his spirit ascended and his teachings are very valid and transformative," the Rev. Michael Moran, senior minister of The Spiritual Life Center, told The Christian Post over the phone.
Sorry Reverend, but your closed hand needs to be more closed…