We used to be a certain bunch. We were certain about pretty much everything. We were certain about our doctrine. We were certain about our identity. We had things locked down tight to a fault. Part of this had to do with a backwards hermeneutic that was self-perpetuating of our pre-determined conclusions that always guaranteed we had scripture behind our conclusions (while it was really in some instances our conclusion in front of scripture).
As many churches of Christ have become more grace oriented we have lost some of that certainty. Some of the certainty we lost needed to be lost. We needed to lose our exclusivity as the remnant that was the only truly right and pleasing group that could truly call themselves Christians. Other parts of our certainty were lost unnecessarily. There were more factors involved in the loss of certainty than just becoming grace oriented. A few of those factors involved a shift overall to a post-modern culture were certainty at large was discounted and deconstructed. A second was a change in our hermeneutic that took more into account than CENI was able to account for and that allowed for needed nuance in our interpretation in an attempt to get back to original meaning or authorial intent of the text…something CENI didn’t take into account.
I think it is important to regain our certainty in some areas and not be shy about it. Here are a few things that I would include on that list.
- Jesus is the way to salvation.
- The fact that as Christians we are indeed saved
- God is real. God is active and involved in the world he created.
- Scripture is the inspired word of God and has authority for our life and faith
- Baptism should be a core part of our disciple-making process just as Jesus instructed
- Assembling as a congregation and with a congregation is an essential part of our faith and spiritual development
- Communion should be the central piece of our worship rather than the sermon
- The Lord will return and bring redemption and restoration to his creation
The list could go on quite some time…at least it should because there are still many things we should be certain of as Christians. But if we are uncertain about things we need to study and pray and ask God for clarity and wisdom on these things. Without certainty we lack a foundation and I am convinced that it drastically reduces our effectiveness in outreach and evangelism because who wants to share a message they aren’t certain about much less share it with conviction? This doesn’t mean we end up locking in on every conceivable thing as scripture doesn’t speak to every conceivable thing but we should have a baseline of conviction…our non-negotiables that we hold with absolute certainty.