Stay

Remember, infants need their mothers (and teenagers do too -- even if they do not believe it) but there is a time when a normally developing person decides it is time to leave the security and protection of his home and start one of his own. We are glad to see this development and sign of maturity and often demonstrate our joy with a wedding reception. Our joy over our developing and maturing children who get married and start their own life in no way detracts from our love and care for the children who are still at home.

To illustrate this point, we have noticed in city-wide meetings where there is a mixture of denominations represented, people tend to congregate according to their denominations. Someone said, "Birds of a feather flock together," and that describes some of the coming together we have seen. Then we notice within the group you can sometimes hear someone criticize the way things are going within their own denomination. It reminds me of brothers and sisters getting together and discussing among themselves the ways mother brought them up -- and how they do not agree with some of the things she did (or does).

In other words, among the family it is all right to find fault with some of mother's acts. But if a kid from down the street says something is wrong with our mother -- he might say hello to the end of a clenched fist. In like manner the denominational people feel free to criticize their own denomination among themselves but they get very huffy if someone outside their denomination brings them a gripe about what is going on.

In fact, we noticed that even people who have left their denomination seem to stand up for it when it is attacked by an outsider. After all, "that's my mother!" And it does not matter if you are still under the protection of her home or if you are going it alone, making your own home -- she still is mother.

When an older child becomes mature enough to get married and start his own home, often there are still younger children developing in the home he is leaving. In a similar way we must be careful to recognize that the church contains younger Christians who are developing. It is not logical to expect them to act like their more mature brothers -but we do expect them to grow and change. Do not allow the pendulum to swing so far to one side that you expect everyone in church to act mature, but do not allow it to swing so far to the other side that you are complacent about the lack of growth.

If a Christian leaves the protection and security of his former denomination he should spend his time, effort and skills in building this new environment. It is wise to caution such a person against wasting his resources by trying to destroy (or change) the environment from which he has graduated.

In other words, a prince should not kill his Queen Mother after he becomes king -neither do we expect a maturing son who becomes married to try to destroy his mother's home -- and likewise Christians should not attack their former denominations.

We believe if you decide to leave your old group, then you should not forsake the fellowship of other Christians, but rather you should seek out others of like precious faith. In other words -- if you change your group -- do not become cloistered or monastic -- do not become isolated. But expect to find that your new group will most probably be quite a bit smaller than your old one.

If you question your church leaders or bring up too many new ideas in Sunday School you may be branded as a "heretic." We feel sure that if you leave your denomination because of some issue of doctrine or belief that surely someone will refer to you as a heretic or at least refer to your belief as heresy. That is not new. Even Paul the Apostle was accused of heresy and he even admitted to being a heretic. He said "But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers" (Acts 24:14).

So if Paul the Apostle was a confessed heretic I reasoned that heresy cannot be all wrong. The dictionary says "heresy -- adherence to a religious opinion that is contrary to an established dogma -- a dissent from a dominant theory or opinion. Heretic - a dissenter from established church dogma, one that is an innovator, a non-conformist."

Well then, Jesus Christ, the apostles, the disciples and even most of my present friends must be heretics -- according to the definition.

So do not worry if you are investigating some religious thought that is outside or contrary to your established denominational dogma. However, you might expect to be treated the same way those other heretics were.

There is a difference between the good heresy of Acts 24:14 and the damnable heresy of II Peter 2:1 God said, "Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols" (Ezekiel 20:18).

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