Phil Auxier stirs us up on his blog with some hard questions and interesting insights. I've listed his entire post below. Any thoughts about his implications?
Tim Keller, in a recent sermon entitled Being the Church in Our Culture, said, “If you get self esteem by saying, "My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how I hard I work in religion, how moral I am, and therefore I have to look down on those who I perceive are lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to 'the other'." What do I mean by that? If the reason you can look yourself in the mirror--if you don’t believe in the depths of your being in the radical grace of Jesus--then there’s something else your looking to as your main identity factor…you’re going to look at some other identity factor. You must feel superior to others because there is something in you. If your self esteem is based on how you have sound doctrine and nobody else does. You have to look down and feel superior to those who aren’t as doctrinally sound. Religion leads to all the conflicts."
Obviously Keller is using "religion" here in the end in a perjorative sense. I think I see this sometimes in the church. Instead of clinging to the grace of God expressed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are pridefully holding onto our right understanding of essential and non-essential doctrinal issues as our means of a right standing before God. This is the reason we cannot heartily agree with Paul who could tell us that "some are preaching Christ from envy and strife and some from good will, the latter doing it out of love, the former out of selfish ambition." What is Paul's conclusion, "Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice." Our doctrinal arrogance is what keeps us from rejoicing when Christ is preached, even when we don't agree 100% doctrinally.
What are some implications of this:
1) I am not affirming that rejecting of truth doesn't matter. Truth is important. We just must not put doctrinal precision on the same level as a work that is justifying us in God's eyes.
2) We should seek to compel those who don't understand the truth as we see it with our loving actions. A humble love for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would compel them much more than our doctrinally arrogant positions.
3) Ultimately, as James affirms (4:1ff) the quarrels and strife among us come from the lusts of our heart and the evil desires found therein. It is not someone's doctrinal wrongness or rightness that causes conflict in the body of Christ. It is desires that are allowed to set doctrinal rightness as an idol that must be served. In doing this, we are putting something before God Himself. It is through loving our neighbor as ourselves that we fulfill the Law. Therefore, we need to be careful of setting an idol up that would lead to undone conflict in the body of Christ.