I’ve been following the Common Grounds Online Forum on The Conversation on Denominational Renewal (PCA). I’m not a member of the PCA, but being at RTS has motivated me to listen in on this conversation. The online forum includes lots of influential pastors such as Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Daniel Doriani, and Phil Ryken. Also, several of my RTS Orlando professors are included as well: John Frame, Reggie Kidd, and John Muether.
So far I’ve listened to the first talk (click to download “Renewing Ethos“) by Greg Thompson. The following quote doesn’t come from the audio, but it comes from his discussion on the forum. I thought I’d share it with others since I think it can apply to the church at large.
…if we are to bear faithful witness to the truth of Christ, we need, in addition to cultivating faithful theology, to cultivate moral beauty. This will mean a) to repent of certain vices that seem endemic to our tradition, and b) to pursue the virtues of Jesus (as described in the Scriptures and the Creed) in our common life. Real renewal of any sort—personal, denominational, cultural—begins with faith and repentance. Renewal is not, as a matter of first order, about the issues we engage or the strategies we employ, but about the kind of people we are.
I don’t want to write a long comment on Thompson’s talk, but one of his points in particular stood out to me: “Pentecostal Charity” (his 6th point). Just so you know, he wasn’t talking about leaving the PCA to join a pentecostal church. He was talking about how the church born at Pentecost had no divisions and was not sectarian. If the body of Christ acknowledged that truth and lived it out, we would all be much more charitable towards one another. We would acknowledge our doctrinal differences, but we would still be united under Christ. We would find ways to peaceably work together in building his kingdom on this earth.
I am not tied to any denomination or church network. I am currently interning at an SGM church, but I’m still wrestling about my place in the body of Christ in the future. I do hold certain essential doctrinal stances and would want those to be reflected at the church I’ll be a part of in the future, but I still seek to minister in an environment where I can practically show charity to others with whom I disagree. Who knows if I’ll ever find a place like that? Must I join the Emergents?