A friend at work wanted me to read an article from Newsweek magazine today. As I was leaving and he was starting his shift he handed it off to me. It’s about how many of the upcoming generation are adopting a popular new label that doesn’t carry the baggage of the traditional ones. This time, even “Christian” is out. The article is called, “A Christian By Any Other Name.” Suffice it to say, here’s yet another way to minor on the doctrines of the faith and major on outward behavior while claiming you’re not majoring on outward behavior.
This is what Horton and the Modern Reformation gang call “Deeds Not Creeds,” co-opting the phrase from Rick Warren’s desire for a “Reformation of Deeds, Not Creeds.” The fact is that the Scriptural order is that the deeds should flow from the creeds (or doctrines), rather than being focused on at the expense of doctrine (read, “Creeds and Deeds: How Doctrine Leads to Doxological Living“). Reflecting this biblical emphasis, the Heidelberg Catechism organizes its questions and answers in a three part format, which in generations past were titled “The First Part – Of The Misery Of Man”; “The Second Part – Of Man’s Deliverance”; and “The Third Part – Of Thankfulness.” A simplified read of this goes, “Guilt, Grace, Gratitude.” You can access the Heidelberg Catechism from my sidebar by clicking on the “Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms” page. Changing your label won’t help a thing–one day, it’ll accumulate the same baggage all previous labels have. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
Those adopting the new label “follower of Jesus”, like so many other such efforts, will eventually (or sooner) lead to people claiming “unity” with religious people of various false religions at the expense of doctrine (that’s what the parents and grandparents of these original “followers” used to call “ecumenism.” They may not intend to (see this defense of Warren’s focus), but it’s inevitable. Miss the lessons of history, and you’re doomed to repeat it’s mistakes. Folks like this, who are so determined to leave the past behind and strike out on the “road less travelled” will be surprised how many have already gone before them, following, not Jesus, but some blind guide, who will eventually lead them into the “ditch,” as Jesus warned.
Indeed, theological liberalism by any other name stinks just as badly.
I have always been fond to the “label,” “disciple of Christ” (obviously already in use by a particular denomination). Unfortunately the reality of that “label” demands a commitment to discipleship (read: obedience), meaning “one who follows a specific and unchangeable discipline.”
As always, you are right in your forshadowing of the outcome of the new “movement.” We’ve all been here before — and the “discipline” (to Truth) will still be lacking.
There’s nothing new under the sun.