Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So how do we cooperate and actually believe in something?

Church Multiplication Associates (CMA), the “organization” I helped to found, is a diverse movement that has all sorts of expressions of Christ’s body within it. One of the ways we determine those we will work alongside of is the “bullet test”. The bullet test is simple, but not an absolute test. The test works like this: Imagine someone put a gun to your head and said, “Renounce this doctrine or I will shoot you!” If you say, “Go ahead, pull the trigger, I will not renounce this doctrine!” That becomes a “bullet doctrine”.

Now this is still a very subjective test, but it is surprisingly effective nonetheless. Of course, there may be some fanatics who would die for their view of when the rapture is to come, but most levelheaded people will not. The threat of death is a surprisingly good way to evaluate devotion.

It is fine to have non-bullet doctrines, but we work alongside those who share the same bullet doctrines and even rejoice in the diversity of viewpoints on the other lesser points of view. I know there are many in Christendom who could not function with this sort of process, I am simply describing our mindset on this important issue. It is not meant to be a definitive absolute measure, simply a prioritizing of what we value as important for the purpose of joining together.

Even in my own mind, there is a doctrine that I would take a bullet for that others whom I know, love, and work alongside of do not hold. Just to be transparent, I would die for my belief in the eternal security of my salvation…but I will not shoot anyone over it! We can still maintain fellowship even if we differ on this volatile doctrine. The “bullet test” is not an absolute, fix all, but one way of discerning those you will work alongside of.

When the Moravian Church came together in Hernhutt under the hospitality and growing influence of Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, they were fractured and paralyzed by several competing doctrines. It was the special filling of the Holy Spirit, much like the day of Pentecost, that changed everything and unleashed something that would change the world. Love prevailed among them from that moment on. They developed a motto (some say it came from Augustine first) that continues to this day: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love.” This began a movement that eventually ushered in modern world missions. The Moravians sent out hundreds of church-planting missionaries all over the world. At one point they had two people in the field for every one at home. And those who remained at home were not idle. From there, prayer continued twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for an entire century!

CMA, at its core, hopes to be a movement that follows this example. We unite on the essentials, grant freedom on the nonessentials, and desire to be controlled by our love for Jesus and one another in everything.

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