Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Anchors Away or Anchors Aweigh?

No...this is not a military post. I was thinking today of the tradition of the church...not tradition in the sense of doing the same things in the same way because it worked 40 years ago. I have been thinking more of the tradition that is described in Jude 3..."the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." After all, this is what the church has been fighting for in the last 2000 years, isn't it? The passing down of the faith...propagating the Gospel...the generational and relational transmission of the good news about a Savior who died for the forgiveness of our sins...the truth of God's Word and its instruction in how we must think and act and live as followers of Christ. That phrase, "once for all", sums it up. It is in these words that we can hear the essence of what tradition is once for all. That's why it is difficult for me to listen to those in the church who fight for things that may need to only be "for such a time as this" rather than "once for all." What usually happens is that the church takes for granted the faith entrusted to the saints and revealed in Scripture. What "REALLY" matters is the necessity of this program or that program (by the way, I would give more specific examples but my intent is not to divide but to challenge our way of thinking).

This tradition, the faith once for all entrusted to the saints, is the anchor of the church. In a turbulent society, it is this anchor that will steady us. My fear is that the church too often sings "Anchors Away," meaning that we have done away with that "strict, by-the-book doctrine that constrains. As long as you believe something with great sincerity of heart, the Lord will overlook your errors in belief and lifestyle" (quotes meant for sarcasm and not actual quotation). The song ought to be "Anchors Aweigh". We should not abandoned the anchor of biblical doctrine; to the contrary, it must be a vital part of our "ship", so that it may be used to our advantage.

The ancient practice of "kedging" comes to mind. This is when the anchor was used to move a ship forward (i.e.- if it was stuck or in the dock and needed to move out without the aid of wind). (Thanks to Leonard Sweet with the info on kedging...I don't agree with everything he writes, but this was helpful.) Biblical faith and doctrine should be the force that moves the church forward; it is not something that drags us down, as some might think. That's how it was in the book of Acts, and that is how God intends for the church today. It is our orthodox belief in God that will advance the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Taking repentance, faith, obedience, and Christ out of the Gospel will not produce a healthier and stronger will kill the church. I would argue that without these, you don't actually have a church; you might have a social club that tips its hat to every individual's idea of God...but that's certainly not the church, no matter what the sign out front says.

May God protect me, my brothers in the pulpit, and the family of God in the pews from every casting the anchor away. May we always see biblical doctrine as the necessary anchor in all that we do.