Thursday, March 05, 2009

This week's lesson: the prophet's message

A church is like a expedition -- and its doctrines are like camping equipment.
  • Too much impedimenta, and you get so bogged down that you never get anywhere.
  • Not enough, and you risk getting cold, lost, hungry, or eaten by bears.
What makes life interesting, of course, is that expedition members are always fussing about the amount of equipment they should bring along.
  • Some are "Stuffers," whose greatest fear is that something important will be left behind.
  • Some are "Dumpers," whose mantra is "simplify, simplify, simplify."
And so the Stuffers are continually urging ever-more-elaborate lists of "essentials" that everyone must carry with them at all times -- everything from the Trinity to veganism (with a 10-part codicil recently voted on the importance of flossing after every meal).

Meanwhile, the Dumpers are happily shoveling everything over the side, leaving them with little more than a vague belief in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of humanity, and the neighborhood of Loma Linda.

Somewhere, a balance must be struck -- and for better or worse, the Adventist church has voted a packing list similar to the one Ellen White listed in Counsels to Writers & Editors, pages 31f:
The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.
Too much?

Not enough?

As with any expedition, it all depends on where you're going.

1 comment:

perpetualstudent said...

Brian McClaren makes a similar analogy in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy. I think the best answer as a church is to give the members some flexibility. The dumpers will be able to travel quickly and find safe resting areas. However occasionally the will get stuck in a tight spot and need the stuffer to bail them out. Stuffers, of course, will tend to get bogged down and need the dumpers as well.