I’ve written recently about the continuous need for discussion about the fundamentals of the faith, for re-articulating the ways in which the Christian faith cuts against the temptations of our own time. It is not enough to rest on the victories of the past; we have to deal with the temptations of the present.
To that end, I present my own modest proposal: five fundamentals for the present day. I believe that these key doctrines must, first of all, be lived. We must joyfully and obediently push them into all the little nooks and crannies of our lives, and reject the temptations that they cut against. Only then can they be effectively proclaimed from our pulpits and across our supper tables, defended in private discussion and public discourse, and paraded before a shocked and disbelieving world.
So without further ado, five fundamentals for the present day:
- The Unity and Community of Christ’s Whole Body. Those who are united to Christ are united to each other, and therefore we must fellowship deeply across gender, family, class, ethnic, denominational, and national lines. Every form of individual pride or group-based sectarianism, chauvinism, prejudice, and vainglory is destined for the pit. Every form of individualism that assures us we’re fine without deep and constant sharing of life with one another is also destined for the pit.
- Love of Generous Fruitfulness. “Be fruitful” is the first command to humanity; it extends into everything, and obedient, godly fruitfulness overflows in every direction. From reproduction to craftsmanship, every endeavor and way of being that is fruitless by nature falls short of our calling as human beings. Every attempt to simulate generosity through compulsion by guilt, fear, or force is doomed.
- The Equality and Difference of Man and Woman. “Male and female He created them.” The existence of culturally constructed differences does not invalidate the existence of biological differences: men and women are different down to the very last cell. Men and women have equal value and dignity and are designed by God to live symbiotically together. Every erasure of real differences — and the social policies based on such follies — can only come to grief. Every form of contempt for one sex, or vaunting one sex over the other, robs us of a chance to flourish.
- The Social Reality of the Fall. There is no “system so perfect that no one will need to be good”–and Jesus is the only hope for human goodness. Nothing short of continuing repentance and life in the Holy Spirit will lead to a genuinely good human society. All utopian social designs are counterfeits of the New Jerusalem, and until the New Jerusalem comes, all social designs must plan for the human drive to exploit other humans for one’s own advantage.
- Functional Supernaturalism. The world was spoken into being, and is upheld by Jesus’ spoken word. It is supernatural down to the quarks, and God actively intervenes on behalf of His Kingdom. Materialism — including the methodological kind — is not correct “as far as it goes;” it is error all the way down, as wrong as Ptolemy’s spheres.
Every one of these five will be derided as ridiculous, judgy, dangerously retrograde. They* will be outraged when we talk about them, but they will be jealous when we live them. So let’s live all five, to the hilt. They* will argue, but like Sophrony once said, “For every argument there is a counter-argument, but who can argue with life?” We don’t have to out-clever our cultured despisers; we just have to live. As we live these truths, and they do not, we will reap fruit and blessings and joy that — for all their cleverness — they cannot explain. We can hope that induces repentance, but honestly I think it will just make most of ’em even madder.
I can’t wait.
*Spoiler alert: “They” will include an impressive number of Christians, not least the evangelical suits and haircuts from Impressive Universities, Respectable Publishers, and Important National Conferences. But so what?