Who’s Kidding Who?

This is from Hill Country Bible Church, Pflugerville, Texas webpage titled “What We Believe.” Strict agreement with these doctrines is not required for membership at HCBC; however, we affirm these beliefs as taught in Scripture and have established them as the official positions of our Church.

Who is kidding who? Do they really believe Jesus is the only way to salvation or not? Do they really believe in the Trinity or not? Do they really believe God created without preexisting material or not?  Do they really believe in a millennial kingdom or not?  They would say they do, but they plainly state that you don’t have to be a member of their church.

Before we go off on yet another Bible Church’s water downed statement of “faith,” we must ask ourselves is it really so different among us?  Officially you can believe the Order of Creation only goes to the threshold of your home and not one step further, or not. Officially you can believe only those who share the same faith should share the Sacrament together, or you cannot believe it. Officially you are not disciplined for denying a six-day creation or that the Pope is the Antichrist. Officially you are not disciplined for anything. Officially you can believe, teach, and confess what we officially believe teach and confess, or not.

We do this for the same reason Hill Country Bible Church does. It is unpopular to be certain. It is closedminded to be intolerant of other confessions of faith. It is unsophisticated to be so sure of something you refuse the right hand of fellowship to someone who denies what you teach.

But when you won’t, you have what we have in Christianity today. The trumpet sounding all varieties of doctrinal notes, the cacophony of Daniel 2, and Christians bowing down to works of mercy, love, good intentions, or to the amorphous confession of Civil Religion “In God We Trust.”

The following story comes from a 35-year-old book of sermon illustrations compiled by a then Dallas Theological seminary professor. He provides no more documentations beyond what you see below. I think the illustration is very apt, but I can’t vouch for its authenticity, and neither does he.

An English village had a tiny chapel whose stone walls were covered with ivy. Over an arch were the words WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Generations of godly pastors did. Times changed; the ivy grew. Then the inscription read WE PREACH CHRIST. Other men did preach Christ: Christ the example, Christ, the humanitarian, Christ the moral teacher. Years passed; the ivy grew. Finally, the inscription read WE PREACH. A generation came who did that: they preached economics, social gospel, book reviews; they preached just about anything but Christ. “The story probably isn’t literally true, but it does illustrate how man’s philosophical detours affect how the gospel is transmitted” (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, 425).

Or not transmitted at all. It gives a whole new spin on ivy covered walls being hallowed; hollow would be more accurate.

 

 

 

 

About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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