It has become increasingly important to me that we view ourselves as within the stream of God-worshippers who have attempted to faithfully serve and to grow in learning and obedience for as long as history has been recorded.
To view ourselves as outside that stream is a seed of arrogance and divisiveness that has no healthy fruit. We need to recognize that as much as we strive to straighten our theology, as long as we inhabit finite bodies we will have finite understandings of God’s Truth.
Consider this quote by Eberhard Arnold, which has resonated with me for some months:
“Let us consider the community of believers we Christians are always talking about–this one organism alive through all the centuries. What is the Bruderhof, then, with its culture? What are all the other denominations, Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren? Whatever good is in them has come about only because they are surrendered to, and gripped by, this stream of life. We must not lay too much stress on the Bruderhof or any other movement. Our community will pass away just as many others have passed away. But the stream of life to which we are surrendered can never pass away. That is what matters.”
Can we admit that whatever is good in our particular culture of God-worshippers has come about because of the Spirit’s work within us, and that whatever is less than God’s glory is due to the degree with which we fail to surrender our entire selves to His transforming work? Can we admit, that like all God-worshippers, of all history, and of all cultural streams that we will be less than perfect in our apprehension of God’s Way? Can we permit this truth to plant a humility within us that views our brothers from other theological, cultural, or historical streams as fellow God-seekers that grasped some aspects of God’s Way and missed others, just as happens with us?