It’s been fascinating to me to watch the evangelical responses to the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs.
There were those who denied that they could be Christians because they formulated the Gospel in a different manner than they did.
There were others, however, who proclaimed them true Christians who died in faith… even knowing that they believed a “false Gospel” by their doctrinal and creedal confessions..
That raises some large questions…
If they were truly saved (and I believe they were) then;
a. Their doctrinal formulation was right and mine is wrong, or;
b. God chose to save them despite their errors, or;
c. God isn’t nearly as concerned about doctrinal formulations as we are.
There was a day when I thought I had it all down.
My faith had been narrowed down to a set of doctrinal propositions.
If you assented to those propositions, then heaven was yours.
If you didn’t, you were going to split hell wide open and I was happy about it.
I was a gatekeeper to the kingdom and quite skilled at separating the sheep from the goats.
I was quite proud of my doctrinal acumen and quite scornful of any perceived lack thereof.
Life was simple, life was good.
Then, I met people who did not affirm my doctrinal propositions who had quite evidently met with Jesus anyway.
I either had to change my doctrinal propositions or change my mind about how one gained access to the throne of grace…or both.
I chose both…which then required me to learn to love people I had formerly consigned to the pit.
It has been difficult and messy.
We love our tribes in Christendom and when you love the other tribes you end up with no tribe of your own.
We curse each other over doctrinal propositions, traditions, leadership, interpretation of Scriptures, sacraments, and a seemingly endless list of sub categories.
We pay lip service to unity in Christ while secretly doubting whether the other tribes (and those in them) know Him at all.
We believe the road is narrow and we’re on it, the broad road is full of other tribes walking into hell with the heathens.
Even when someone offers up the right propositions and participates in the tribal rites properly, we who are convinced of our own right standing before God examine anything we can for possible disqualification.
We can almost always find something.
We so often make the ‘good news’ something like one of those envelopes you get from Publishers Clearing House…”You’ve won!”…if you meet about a hundred qualifications.
Our mantra is that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship….then we try to force people with a relationship into our religion.
Why…do we go out of our way to make heaven so distant for so many?
Why… does it seem that we are more concerned with keeping people out than getting people in?