Experience or Knowledge

Christians from a “reformed” tradition are those who hold to a high standard of biblical belief and what they view is rigorous biblical precision. Those who follow this Calvinistic bend have gained much popularity in modern “missional” church plants, but there is remains a common theme that hinders all their forward progress and puts them in the front row of contention; internally and externally. 

The problem forms when reformed Christians read a verses from scripture like Hosea 9:15 which says:

“Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them. Because of their wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house. I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.”

The reformed mindset is tenaciously tethered to what it believes is a “biblical worldview”. In other words they believe that if any truth is discernible in the world it is found in the pages of scripture. Thus all pages and words of scripture contain perfect truth and it takes a tremendous amount of work to study to interpret them.

When I lived under that paradigm, I read my bible cover to cover three times every year. I also learned Greek and began working in Hebrew. I used tools like Bibleworks to get at the meaning of things.  All of this is was helpful and arduous and I did it diligently as I worked through my Bible nearly 40 times.

I was stuck. I had a problem that I couldn’t see. I took all verse of scripture and interpreted them as either indicative of “How God is” or imperative for “How I should live.”  It took some very wise mentor’s and humble people to show me how verses like the one above may not be teaching either one, but is more likely teaching something about how man used to relate to God. This meant I can still love scripture but I wasn’t forced to import archaic ways of thinking into a modern context.

And that is precisely the challenge in reformed traditions. The people are certainly sincere, but they are not free. The scripture tells us that worshipers of God will do so in both Spirit and in Truth. Some of these traditions have biblical truth (although not accurately contextualized) but they lack spirit (because many are secessionists). Look, I”m not throwing stones here, I love my reformed brothers and sisters. I am simply inviting them into a new paradigm where their diligence and sincerity can move them forward into a more integral experience of their faith.

The way man viewed God in the past impregnated the scriptures and yet the revelation of God to people is still present thematically through the entire meta narrative. The story of the cross is revolutionary because it resets those ideas once and for all away from a harsh super-parent in the sky looking down with a stink-eye, into an everyday man who faces the pains and temptations and disappointments that we do.  

We all feel disgrace, humiliation, dejection, forgotten or tempted, and then we find a new way to view things and then we rise up, try again, take another step and find hope and joy within all circumstances.  When every we rise up out of this in a little or in a big way, we are retelling the Christ story in our very lives. This allows us to have an experience with Christ rather than just a bunch of knowledge about him.  This allows us to relate to God rather than to put him in a theological grid.

Take the richness that comes from the reformed tradition and let it fuel an open mind, an open heart, and an open physical body to know, experience and touch a very real expression of Christ. If that is done, progress will be made.