As you know, John and I have been members of several different denominations over the years. One day I will complete my series on “Entering the Church” and tell more about our various experiences and observations. But recently I have been thinking about one basic difference I have noticed between Baptist and Presbyterian/Dutch Reformed churches. I think it was brought to mind again through an article Tim linked to the other day called, “Here Come the Radicals”.
In his article, one point the author makes is that ordinary life lived in and through the Lord is beautiful – the man working hard in his cubicle to support his family, the mom up night and day caring for sick children… And he was asking, does God really look on that as second-best as some ‘radical’ Christians tend to insinuate? (They would say your life should necessarily be counter-cultural, essentially different from those around you as you seek to live in a truly biblical manner. ‘Normal’ living is simply not a sufficient framework for really serving God))
My theological tradition – the Presbyterian/Dutch variety – has never suggested that. So where does this idea of the ordinary being inferior come from? I am sure there are many different ways of looking at it, and I want to suggest just one.
And I want to reaffirm that – though still of Presbyterian persuasion – I am now in a Reformed Baptist church by choice. I love my little church and the people in it. And what I am going to talk of is not rooted in my time there. This is a difference I have seen over many years.
I think many differences between God-honoring, biblical churches come down to one question. Does the Great Commission supersede the ‘creation ordinances’ of Genesis?
What do I mean? The ‘creation ordinances’ in Genesis (the trans-historical commands to Adam and Eve) are:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”
These are two desires that God has for all people in all time…Built right into humankind.
Then, in the New Testament, as Christ was about to ascend into Heaven he told his disciples to:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you….”
So, which is paramount in glorifying God?
The ‘ordinariness’ of raising Godly children and making a living, or the command to share our faith and make disciples?
Obviously, all Christians adhere to both. Still, painting with a very broad brush, the Dutch have traditionally emphasized the ‘ordinary’, the first alternative, the creation ordinances. And people of baptist persuasion the ‘spiritual-view’, the second alternative, the Great Commission. Biblical Presbyterians have been pretty much in the middle, embracing both. Which is why I love Presbyterianism and always will.
But, as I said, I am in a Reformed Baptist church by choice.
I don’t think variety is the spice of life. I give that honor to inconsistency!
And a little postscript:
I am off to spend the rest of the week with daughters and grandchildren. I doubt I will have time to write on Friday, so will try to do something i have never done -post photos…(Trusting in my kids to help me!)