Letters March 2015
Look to Bible, not Confession of Faith
Re “CCMBC Statement re: Nutana Park Mennonite Church.” I appreciate the willingness of Willy Reimer and CCMBC to respond with what initially appears a clear and traditional position on marriage. However, being committed to our “confessional position” is extremely weak at best. We all know confessional statements change. If we simply rely on our Confession and not say it is God’s Word (or instruction) we’re committed to obey, there is no foundation for its premise. We must look to God’s standard, not a denominational interpretation or confession.
Beware of false teachers
Re “Current books: We Make the Road by Walking” (Crosscurrents, February). In reading Brad Sumner’s review of this book – and his somewhat favourable comments – I get the impression Sumner thinks the book would be beneficial for believers. Should we even give the slightest hint of endorsement to a book written by someone who doesn’t hold to the infallibility of Scripture?
When we begin to doubt the truthfulness of the entirety of the Word of God (as does Brian McLaren), we’re on slippery ground. Throughout the New Testament, we’re encouraged to be aware of false teaching. Why would we use this book to journey deeper into the themes of Scripture?
Baby with the bathwater?
Re Greg Good’s online comment (above). I hear you asking if it’s wise for leaders to use resources and authors that don’t share some of our a priori theological or methodological approaches to the Bible. To me, this depends a lot on who we’re working with and what their own susceptibility to false teaching or doctrine might be.
If we simply say things such as, “The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it,” we may miss an opportunity to walk with people who may not share our convictions about the authority of Scripture, but are willing to explore whether what the Bible says about itself is true. To me, this means using resources and authors who don’t share our starting points but who can nonetheless be helpful in some aspects of the journey.
I would also say that McLaren’s use of the Bible isn’t consistently anemic or allegorical. I think he believes deeply and passionately in God’s Word as truth, but he simply raises some of the same questions others have had over time. C.S. Lewis, for example, in a letter to Clyde Kilby dated May 7, 1959, suggests “The very kind of truth we are often demanding was, in my opinion, not even envisaged by the ancients.” This would make some people very nervous, but they still read and recommend Mere Christianity.
For me, the question isn’t whether an author shares my convictions about biblical authority, but whether I can use this tool (podcast, book, article, movie) to help develop and sharpen a conviction around the truths of Scripture in someone I’m mentoring.