Roger Olson: “Mr Smith” Goes to Church
Roger Olson writes on church discipline and being “open”:
Raise the possibility of excluding anyone from church in the circles I move in and you’ll get push back immediately. “Church is for everyone; we welcome all.” That’s the attitude of a lot of well-meaning Christians in America today. Even membership is often held as “open”—to anyone who affirms Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—regardless of other beliefs or lifestyles or practices. The result is what used to be called a “mixed assembly”—a collection of people who little to nothing in common beyond the bare bones of belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—whatever that may mean to them.
Seems relevant in light of retired UMC bishop Talbert’s recent comments that “the Lord invites all to the table, excluding no one.”
The motto of the modern fundamentalist Christian–certainly one of the better known sayings associated with fundamentalism–might be “The Bible said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”
A coworker at the library quipped recently that that was not quite accurate: “It doesn’t matter whether I believe it; The Bible says it, and that settles it.”
It is interesting to note that the origin of that particular phrase goes back much farther than the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the early 20th century. Ignatius of Antioch (died 108 AD), the third bishop of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John, wrote basically the same thing almost two millenia ago: “Unless I find it in the originals in the gospel, I do not believe, and when I said to them, ‘It is written,’ they answered me, ‘That settles it'” (Philadelphians 8.2, quoted in Thomas Oden’s Classic Christianity, page 554).