Evangelical fundamentalists are my people. Some of them wish they could disown me, and some days I wish they could too, but our relationship is a fact of history–which is to say that it is God’s Providence. It is among these people that God has called me to serve, and to serve not just as a sheep, but also as a shepherd. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, of course. All the sheep are really His, and all His people are His sheep. But some of us are also shepherds, under His direction. The Church being what it presently is, there are a lot of different sub-flocks, divided both by geography (which is fine) and by doctrine/history (which is not). There are Anglican shepherds, Methodist shepherds, Baptist shepherds, Eastern shepherds, and so on. I am an evangelical shepherd.
I have friends in other traditions who urge me to convert to their tradition. They argue that in my tradition, the sheep are sick. In their traditions, they say, there is medicine for this sickness. (Of course their traditions have their own weaknesses, but let’s leave that aside for now.) Granting the correctness of the diagnosis–and at some points it is correct–how could I leave for that reason?
What kind of a shepherd leaves a flock because it is sick? A good shepherd heals the sick, and is willing to accept medicine from whoever has it to give.
“You have no right to this medicine,” says the stingy traditionalist, “unless you come serve in our corner of Christ’s great flock. This medicine belongs only to us.” But no. What do they have, that they did not receive as a gift? And if they received it as a gift, why do they boast as though they did not? If the medicine heals, then it comes from Christ the Great Physician, and if it comes from Christ, it is for all His sheep: “Freely you have received; freely give.”