A Balanced USS Doctrine
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Image you’re on a small boat with a friend, both of you are standing in the middle and the boat is balanced. Suddenly your friend rushes to the side of the boat making the boat lean hard to one side. Afraid the boat will capsize, you instinctively rush to the opposite side, hoping to restore balance. Sadly, you do not weigh enough and the boat continues to role. You call to your friend to return to the center but he does not listen. In the end all you can do is head for the life boat, leaving your friend in God's merciful hands.
I have been discussing doctrine with a friend. We are both committed to avoiding extremes. We much prefer the unity and stability that is found in the middle of the boat. However, I have noted that when one of us strays to close to the sides of our small vessel, the other instinctively runs to the opposite extreme to compensate.
I am not an Arminian nor am I a Calvinist. Yet when I converse with someone who subscribes to one of these doctrinal paradigms more then I feel they should, I find that I rush to the other extreme to compensate for what I see as their lack of balance. When reasoning with a Calvinists, I suddenly become an Arminian or vice versa. I hate this. I am forced to become something I am not. There must be a better way.
A stable Church depends of a stable doctrine. As a father, husband, Christian brother, and as a bible teacher, I wish to stay in the middle. I no longer want to restore balance to the USS Doctrine by reacting to my friend’s extreme with an opposite but equal extreme. Rather, I wish to remain in the safety of the middle and beckon my friend to return.
There are some very basic rules to follow that will help us avoid extremes. They are not bullet proof but they are a good start. I think the very first thing we must do is anchor ourselves to God’s Word. Make the study of the bible a high priority. The best way to spot a lie is to know the truth. Make sure that everything we believe can be supported and proven by scripture. If it’s not found somewhere between Geneses and Revelation avoid it. Follow the 20/20 rule. Read 20 verses before and 20 verses after your proof text. This helps keep the verse in its proper context. In addition, try to understand the times in which the scripture was composed. This helps avoid becoming legalistic.
Lastly, compare scripture with scripture, allow God’s Word to bring balance to its self. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that women are to remain silent in the church. This verse has needlessly given birth to a multitude erroneous and extremes doctrines. We are able balance this verse out by looking at the whole of scripture. There are other places within God’s Word where women pray, prophecy, and even teach. Clearly Paul does not intend for women to never speak while they are in Church. We have to remember that in Paul’s day women were deliberately kept ignorant and illiterate. It would happen, in the course of a meeting, that that the ladies would demand so much instruction that they hijacked the lesson. Paul was instructing the ladies to have their husbands explain things better when they returned home. Evidently they were demanding so much time they destroyed the order of the meeting.
I recognize that extremes are a part of the maturing process. I’m OK with that, but as a friend and a teacher, I desire to limit the time you spend there. If you find that your friends all seem to be running for their life boats leaving you isolated from the greater body of Christ. If you are becoming critical and judgmental of yourself and those around you. You may need to come away from the side of the boat. Sadly I can't come to where you are and drag you back for this will sink us faster. Nether can I run to the other extreme for I do not wish others to follow me there. All I can do is call to you and make your danger known. If you terry to long, I too will have to abandon ship. Ultimately, it is up to you to return to the center.
Your Brother in Christ
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