Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Has Your Method Become an Idol?

Last week on the blog there was some discussion that revolved around working with other followers of Christ that may not be from the same background or tradition. The main idea being whether or not there are issues that would cause one to either break fellowship or not work alongside with another believer based on issue x, y, or z. Basically what was looked at was are there such things as non-negotiable and negotiable issues within the church? 

For the record I am a huge proponent on working with people from varying backgrounds as I see the benefit of the larger body of Christ in the Church Universal being whole and on mission together. But I do not think that means that you just incorporate every idea or method in order to get along with every guy who comes along claiming to be a Christian because I do believe that there is a place for the gift of discernment within the church.

That being said, I still hold to there being non-negotiable and negotiable issues within the church, although my view or may be how I articulate it has been challenged in recent days.

I want to briefly look at an issue that goes hand in hand with this whole idea, that being principles and methods. In regards to this overall discussion over a few blog post, I like how Mark Driscoll sums it up in his recent leadership coaching video by saying, "Principles are close-handed and timeless; whereas, methods are open-handed and timely."

It is often our methods that would fall into the negotiable category, but many are guilty of making these non-negotiable, which in essence has turned a methodology into an idol. Driscoll has created his own term here in calling it "methodolaltry," when ones method becomes the "only way" of doing things.

Much of this is played out in the church today as being the "big issues" that split churches when in reality they are not "big issues" at all other than the fact that they have become idolatry to some. Practical examples would be robes or no robes (My Orthodox Priest friend), choirs or bands, the way in which to serve the elements of communion, etc. These are all methods that are timely, open-handed, and contextual.

I am sure that this is convicting for some, so my question is what methods have you tried to make principles? What methods in your life have become idolatry? Please feel free to share an example from your own life or that of your church as you have seen "methodolatry" or the repentance from such.

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