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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Why Focus on the Differences?

Conservative and traditionalist Christians are often criticized for making a fuss over their doctrinal distinctives. Admittedly, we can sometimes be obnoxious. There's no excuse for that, but frankly, anytime a person takes a stand, no matter how sweetly, it is likely to offend someone else.

Yesterday, while sitting in one of my new favorite haunts, the newly opened Caribou Coffee here in Brentwood, I read an article on witchcraft in Christian Research Journal. The author made an interesting point. He wrote: "There are similarities between flour and ricin. They both are made from plants; they both are white powders; but it is not their similarities that are interesting or important, it is their differences. One promotes life and the other effects death....I am only trying to show that with some issues the differences can be just as important, if not more so, than the similarities."

He's talking about people of different religions. But here's my point. Even within the Christian world, there are significant differences of belief. These are not unimportant. While it is true that some Christians fail to take seriously what various churches have in common, it is equally true that some Christians fail to take seriously the important differences which unfortunately divide us.

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Preachrboy said...

Rev. S,

I think this issue is really at the heart of what divides the lcms nowadays. I have phrased it this way:

While we all argree (confess) the una sancta as well as the distinctiveness of our own doctrine - we disagree on which of these needs more emphasis.

I happen to believe, in most cases, we need to emphasize the differences. Our culture is SCREAMING the opposite. "We all worship the same god" is the lie of our age. Now, if the shoe were on the other foot... who knows?

But I liken it to the balancing of Law and Gospel when dealing with a particular sinner or sitation. Law for the secure sinner, Gospel for the penitent. We need to be sensitive on a global scale of what themes need emphasis. No?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Well said.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

It is important, pastorally, that we apply the appropriate truth to the particular needs of the party or parties addressed. To the person comfortable with his sin, we preach God's law and judgment. To the person terrified of death/hell and burdened with guilt, we preach God's mercy and forgiveness.

In our post-modern climate, where folks say that every religion is equally valid, it is necessary to demonstrate that some things are true/right and some things are false/wrong.

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