Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Stott: disunity often caused by proud prejudices

As we've seen already, a crucial part of maintaining Christian unity is doggedly holding to the key parts of the gospel. However, as this quote from John Stott shows, Biblical unity also requires a humility and realisation of ones own presuppositions and prejudices when it comes to 'secondary' doctrines:

We must come to the biblical text with a recognition of our cultural prejudices and with a willingness to have them challenged and changed. If we come to Scripture with the proud presupposition that all our inherited beliefs and practices are correct, then of course we shall find in the Bible only what we want to find, namely the comfortable confirmation of the status quo. As a result, we shall also find ourselves in sharp disagreement with people who come to Scripture from different backgrounds and with different convictions, and find these confirmed. There is probably no commoner source of discord than this. It is only when we are brave and humble enough to allow the Spirit of God through the Word of God radically to call in question our most cherished opinions, that we are likely to find fresh unity through fresh understanding.
[You Can Trust the Bible, page 50].
I experienced a case in point of this a number of years ago when I was a Relay Worker. I was meeting to study the Bible with another Christian from a very different background to my own. For nearly six months, this felt like a chore as both of us wanted to impose 'our' Christianity upon the other. Then I believe the Lord showed both of us - suddenly, and at the same time - the futility of what we were doing. This made us both much better listeners, and we actually found out that we both had a whole lot more in common with each other than both of us had previously thought. We still don't see eye to eye over every issue. But I would count him one of my good friends and a tenacious partner in the gospel.

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