I’m not ashamed of my conservative roots. I am a proud graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Yes, it is a Bible school with a dress code, code of conduct which prevented all sorts of fun, they even make their graduates sign a doctrinal statement. A big crazy one, too. I think most would label my theological positions somewhere between “conservative” and “very conservative.” I hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I believe that in order to walk with Jesus one must make a personal decision for Jesus. I even believe in a 6 day creation. I’m pretty stinking conservative theologically and I’m proud of that.
But there are practices from within my tribe I’m not proud to associate myself with. And most of them can be boiled down to a little God theory of the world.
Little God theory [I made this term up] is the belief that people are only “truly Christian” if they happen to agree with your views of God, church, Jesus, and how you worship.
I remember Ray Pritchard illustrating this with a joke when we attended his church in the Chicago area:
A man is driving across a bridge late one night when he comes upon another man standing on top of the railing of the bridge, positioned to commit suicide. He stops his car and cautiously walks up to the man. “Mister, I don’t know what’s happened in your life but I can promise you that whatever it is, killing yourself won’t fix anything.” He proceeds, “Sir, do you believe in God?” The man replies, “Why yes, in fact I
am a deacon in a Lutheran church.” Amazed, he replies “Well, me too! Tell me, what synod of the Lutheran Church are you a deacon in?” The man on the ledge says, “I’m a lifelong member of the Missiori synod, how about you?” Angered by this reply, the Good Samaritan lunges forward and pushes the man off the ledge. As the man plunges to his death the man shouts, “You heretic, there is only one true synod… the Wisconsin synod of the Lutheran Church!”
That story illustrates just how silly a small God theory is in the hands of a mighty, sovereign God. Small God theory is willing to separate over things that aren’t that big of a deal. Music, methodology, gray areas, etc. Small God theory elevates minor things to major thing status. It takes these things and blows them out of proportion. It assumes that people who don’t like bluegrass/hip hop worship can’t possibly worship the same God as those who live for it. It assumes that people who want to have an altar call before you get your food at Chick-fil-a couldn’t possibly fellowship with people who aren’t sure if altar calls are ever appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are people who just don’t think they can worship with those crazy skim milk fans. Small God theory can’t get over the 2% difference between two groups of people… that 2% really, really matters! [Just wait, someone will leave a comment about that 2%, what if it’s ___.] From that reasoning they can justify building a church across the street. This separation thing is one of the hallmarks of being protestant, isn’t it? We love to take our 2% ball and go somewhere else!
I’m a big God theory dude. The way I see it, God’s love is super big-wide-deep-tall for His people. He has created some people to speak in tongues, some who hate tongues speaking folks, some who like gangsta rap worship and some who like to chant in church. I think God loves the diversity of His body. I see Jesus as a loving groom who greatly enjoys His funky, off-the-wall bride. We speak all languages, worship in thousands of fashions, have theological views which clash and clang against one another, but together are wildly in love with the groom… big eye shadow and all. I don’t even have a huge problem with my small God theory cousins. They just add that little spice that keeps the party interesting.
To be honest, I’m longing to find friends who enjoy the big God theory ecclecticism. I’m happy to make friends who shrug their shoulders at differences– even significant ones– yet rally around a love for Jesus. And when those small God theory folks call me names– I get a kick out of that too. Everyone has a know it all relative, don’t they?