I originally posted this article not long after I began blogging. I thought it might be an appropriate follow-up (with some slight modifications from the original version) for my last post. I hope you enjoy it.
Being relatively new to the blogosphere, I must say that I have really enjoyed visiting various blogs. I am quickly learning that this is a huge forum where people of all schools of thought come to share insights, learn what others think, report news and take shots at one another. (Sounds kind of like Washington, D.C. doesn’t it?)
As I have visited different theological and church-related blogs, I have seen many labels used to describe various ideological and doctrinal positions. It kind of reminds me of the trends of the 1970’s and 1980’s when many churches tried to cram their entire statement of faith onto their sign. You remember what I’m talking about, “Pre-millennial, Pre-tribulational, Soul-winning, Fundamental, etc., etc.” Now I am not ridiculing the beliefs that those labels represent. I just always wondered, “Who are they trying to impress with all of those labels?” The average non-believer would look at those signs and become confused as to whether they should bring a Bible or a dictionary to that church. On the other hand, the members of the church down the road might look at that sign and see that they had better labels than their own church and might be inclined to move their membership, but I digress.
Some labels that I have seen on some of the blogs I have visited are attached to long-standing lines of theology, Calvinism and Arminianism, for example. Other labels are kind of new, such as “missional”, “emergent”, and “seeker-sensitive”. Still others such as “moderate”, “fundamentalist”, (”fundies” for short), and “legalist” are delivered so acidicly that I was concerned for the safety of my eyes after reading them on my monitor.
After seeing all of these different labels, I began to wonder, “What am I? Where do I fit in the grand scheme of label-making?” I decided more research was needed to better understand the meaning of the labels. Only then could I embark on the adventure of theological self-discovery. I began to explore.
Looking at the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, I realized that I was neither a Calvinist nor anArminian. I found out that “moderate” was, to the label-makers a nice (?) way of saying “liberal”. I don’t consider myself to be liberal. In fact, I have always been told that I am a “funadamentalist”, but I certainly try not to be as mean-spirited as the label-makers make fundamentalists out to be. I discovered that a “legalist” was basically anybody who preaches against something that you don’t, so I guess that is kind of subjective.
I saw debates between “dispensationalists” and “covenant theologians”. Then I learned that there were even different varieties of each. I learned about the whole “continuationist” vs “cessationist” thing.
Then there were the new terms. “Seeker-sensitive” churches try to find out how people in their neighborhood want to do church and then schedule services to accomodate them. I can’t say that I have ever done that. I thought “missional” sounded exciting. I mean, we are supposed to be on mission for Christ, right? But then I found out that to be missional I had to listen to contemporary music on my i-Pod while drinking a latte at Starbucks. I don’t own an i-Pod and the nearest Starbucks is about 45 miles from here, so I guess I don’t get to be missional. “Emergent” people seem to enjoy listening to the David Crowder band on their i-Pod while quaffing Guiness ale. I have already shared with you my i-Pod status, I don’t imbibe in alcoholic beverages, and honestly, I have no idea who David Crowder is.
After much soul-searching, I think I finally came up with a label for myself: by the grace of God, I am a progressive dispensational, cessational, pre-millenial, pre-tribulational, Bible-believing, soul-winning, non-Calvinistic, non-Arminian, illegalistic, non-moderate Christian who wishes he had an i-Pod.
I don’t think that is going to fit on my sign.