Coming to know Christ…
There’s a few different ways we evangelicals express an important idea. It might turn out to be our most important idea.
There’s something often pointed out about this. In truth, it’s a criticism that has some validity. The thing is, it’s an idea that just doesn’t have any history.
Though our faith is two thousand years old, this “most” important part is less than a hundred years old. This implies the question, “What about the staggering majority of Christians, who lived for the first 1,900 years?” Either they were o.k. with out thinking in terms of a personal relationship, in which case, we are left wondering why a personal relationship is so important to us… Or they were terribly lost with out this way of looking at things. And if they were lost with out this idea, then the gospel was incomplete in Jesus until we came around to unpack it. The inherent arrogance of such a position is hardly worth spelling out.
Furthermore, in the name of intellectual honesty, we have to be careful. We have this tendency to want to have our cake and eat it to. We tend to try and pick and choose what aspects of our faith-history we want to claim ownership for. On the one hand, we talk about the cloud of saints that came before us. We think that they were divinely inspired when they reads the bible and inferred doctrine like the trinity (which, strictly speaking, doesn’t appear in the bible itself) and on the other hand, we think that the holy spirit took much longer to lead us to ideas about a personal relationship with Jesus.
If, in fact, the ideas of the trinity and the idea of a personal relationship with Christ were equally important, we had have some explaining to do. We would owe an account of why one idea figures so prominently in the entire history of Christianity while the other one is a late addition.
And yet, if the idea of a personal relationship with Christ isn’t particularly important, then we could fairly be accused of fixation on a fairly unimportant doctrine.
There is a solution to this dilemna, though. But this post has gone on long enough. I think I’ll get to what I see as the answer in the next one.