Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Doctrine of Heebie-Jeebies

I was talking to someone about a church "denomination" recently and they expressed the hope that it was "fundamental holiness" in doctrine. This is the doctrine that I grew up with and still that of the person I was conversing with. I had never referred to it as such so it took me a few minutes to compute the meaning of those words.

Those two words: fundamental and holiness make my skin crawl.

Lord knows I've tripped over enough fundamentals to last me a lifetime. As for holiness, well that's just another way of saying that the doctrine is "works-driven". As in, "work out your salvation in fear and trembling." While I agree with the Apostle James that, "faith without works is dead," I tend to view that sentiment as another way of saying that actions speak louder than words when it comes to claiming faith. What I remember from my childhood church years is not so much actions based on faith but rather judging of others based on principles of faith. If there is one thing that I have utter contempt for among humans it is when principles are valued over people.

The phrase "they should know better" seemed to come up a lot in conversation when I was growing up. Even today I judge myself when I make mistakes based on the fact that I "should know better." It is a graceless existence and, no doubt, has fueled the depression that I often struggle with. Worse is when I extend this graceless viewpoint to others because "they should know better" too. Then I really feel miserable. How the heck do I know if they should know better or not? Maybe they sincerely do not know know better!

As holocaust survivor and Christ-follower, Corrie ten Boom once said, "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. but if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest!" Why? Because Jesus offers grace and forgiveness not a pile of guilt and shame. "Holiness" doctrine or not we simply cannot EVER measure up to be on God's level. No one can. Not even Billy Graham. God offers the hope that, in spite of our struggles and failures He can and He will make it right in our lives and best of all, He does not need our help in order to do so, just our permission and admittance as to where we went wrong. Sure, sometimes we have to actually do something more than just saying we are sorry - we have to make reparations to others because it shows that we love and respect them and that has everything to do with faith and love.

I'm sure someone can point out to me where I am wrong and should know better about the "fundamental holiness" movement - I'm just calling it like I've seen it. Moreover, I have no desire to join back up with that particular movement after the dozens of self-help books I've invested in and read trying to get that particular thorn out of my side.

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