I was talking to someone tonight who had a T-shirt advertising another church. Now I hadn’t heard of it, so I decided to ask some questions. I got down eventually to what denomination. I ask this one because I want to be sure in dealing with a church that the church is orthodox so I check to see if they have ties to an orthodox denomination.
I mentioned Nicea and the lady said “What’s that?” Then she said “As long as people believe Jesus is the savior and that it’s not by works but all by grace.” Now this got me thinking. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe Jesus is the savior and that it is by grace and not by works that we’re saved, but it seems this lady had things backwards. The test for orthodoxy was not the person of Christ but the method of salvation.
Now I believe the method is important, but I think the person is more important. I think Arminians and Calvinists are both my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot say though that the Mormon or the Jehovah’s Witness is my brother or sister. This gets just as concerning since a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness could very well amen what this lady said and she’d consider them brothers and sisters.
Friends. I do think that we need to have a good grasp of church history. Fortunately, the man had heard of Nicea, but this lady was clueless. That leads to easy prey for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now I’m not saying you need to know everything about church history and know the Church Fathers inside and out, but you should know enough major events like the four major councils all accept and what happened.
The early church’s main dealing was with who Jesus was. It was not about works vs. grace. Yes. That was discussed, but when a council is called, it is called to deal with the question of who Jesus is, which I will state was already well taken care of by the early church fathers.
I believe the debate unless we get to a Pelagian view is really an inside debate. I have devout friends on both sides, but I know this about them. They both really love Jesus and they are both doing their part to live holy and righteous lives. I see no reason to doubt the salvation of either.
This is still my concern though. We need to get back to orthodoxy, to what Lewis called “Mere Christianity.” Unfortunately, we are still majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors. (I’m wondering if this lady could tell me why I should believe the Earth is young or the KJV is the only Bible, but not know about the difference between Trinitarianism and Modalism.)
If we care about our faith, we owe it to familiarize ourselves with it. Can we debate the secondary issues some? Yes. They’re not the test for orthodoxy though, and we need to return to that.