We can’t settle for simple sets of rules

One takeaway from the excellent conversation I listened to on the podcasts I referred to in my last post was this insight: when we are tired of making too many decisions in our lives we fall to fundamentalism. There is a hard right and a hard left fundamentalism, but those are the areas we go to when we’re done trying to work through too many decisions or too many perceived gray areas.

When we’re done with discussion and get tired of “the middle” areas and, quite frankly, we’re “done” with “the other side”, we fall into our fundamentalist camps. It’s easier there. Simple rules. You know who is “in” and who is “out.”

This is what we need to learn to avoid as believers and in some respects we’re doing a poor job of it in American Christianity. As a result, we’re getting more Balkanized expressions of Christianity.

Paul’s dealing with the Corinthian Christians shows the tendency they also had in their day to “simplify” the process of who was “in” and who was “out.” Paul tried to steer them clear of those rocks. When they were going for simple rules he was recommending a gospel of the changed heart.

Paul is not content with offering simple rules, a set of dos and don’ts to guide the Corinthians through the difficulties of living as people of the true God in a world full of other gods. He wants them to be able to think through the issues for themselves, and that means thinking hard about just who the true God is, and what it means to love and serve him. That remains as urgent a task today as it was in the first century.
Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (p. 101). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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