I wrote a little essay for the print magazine about why I don't like to call myself "Reformed" more than 10 times a week, and it prompted this good question from one reader:
"OK, I agree that labels can obscure the Lord, but can you suggest an alternative for discerning a speaker's orthodoxy? There are many out there claiming to be Christians, but their doctrinal views are dangerous, if not downright heretical. You know what I mean: "Name it and Claim it," "Psychobabble Christianity," "Non-Lordship Salvation," et cetera. Surely they should not be left in error, if we can correct them. Additionally, some, although they love Jesus fervently, may need to have the way of God explained 'more accurately' (Acts 18:24-26). And others may have a 'zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.' Theology matters."
I started to imagine, à la John Lennon, a Christian world without labels---just for one week. Say we are all thrust together in a giant auditorium with no name tags identifying us as OPC, PCA, RPC, SBC, UPC, AOG, etc. Suppose we had no way of knowing, ahead of time, right from the get-go, who was who? Suppose we had no tidy way of pigeonholing somebody's theology and "getting his number" and pegging him. Would it be a train wreck? Would it be a colossal waste of time having to go around and talk to each person individually for at least an hour or two, say, over coffee, to find out what he thinks and believes about Jesus? Would we have to go so far as to crack open a Bible together? To risk studying the Bible with a guy who's an "unknown quantity," who might even hold dangerous views?
Is it possible we might learn a couple of things ourselves that we hadn't seen before in the Scriptures? Is it possible we would find that our own denomination had a blind spot or two?
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