Thursday, August 07, 2008

Minimizing Christianity to the Glory of God

C Michael Patton @ looks at the various views on living the Christian life. In this he notes the various approaches of:


One who sees Christianity as a system of belief that only recognizes the least common denominator. In other words, let’s just find out what all those who call themselves Christian believe and say that this is true Christianity and then let’s not talk about anything else. Talking about what divides, well . . . divides. And division is bad, bad, and double bad. Therefore, let’s just all get along.


One who seeks unity only with those with whom there is maximal agreement. Any disagreement, no matter how small it is perceived to be, does not take away from its importance. All issues are equal, or at least close to it.


One who seeks unity by finding areas of compromise. Taking the dialectical method, opposing positions are rarely correct, but the truth is found in a compromised center.


One who starts with the center of Christianity and believes that it provides the anchor from which all other conversation will find its ground. A centralist is focused on the most important elements of the faith so that the other issues can be seen in light of the perspective it provides.

In this he considers:

What is the “center” of the faith?

Here are some differences between the four positions:

Maximalist: Let’s find all denominators.
Minimalist: Let’s find the least common denominator.
Centrist: Let’s create a new denominator that is somewhere in the middle.
Centralist: Let’s find the most important denominator.

Maximalist: We will militantly divide over all issues since all issue are of equal importance.
Minimalist: Issues that people disagree upon unnecessarily divides, therefore, let’s not discuss disagreements.
Centrist: Let’s all move more toward the middle ground, then we can get along.
Centralist: If we are united around the centrality of Christ, let all other issues find perspective in this agreement.

Maximalist: The truth is in the maximum.
Minimalist: The truth is in the minimal.
Centrist: The truth is in the middle.
Centralist: The truth is in the central.

Maximalist: Approach to Church history: All traditions that do not completely agree with us are anathema.
Minimalist: Approach to Church history: Find the minimal areas of agreement and form a new tradition.
Centrist: Approach to Church history: Use the dialectical method understanding history as a stepping stone to the evolution of truth.
Centralist: Approach to Church history: Find the central areas of agreement and recognize this commonality.

Maximalist: Non-essentials = essentials (there is no such thing)
Minimalist: Non-essentials = non-importance
Centrist: Non-essentials = everything
Centralist: Non-essentials should be put into their relative positions of importance to the degree that they affect the central issues.

In a quick summary:

Centralizing Christ to the Glory of God? Absolutely. By definition, when we center on the person and work of Christ, God will be glorified.

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