The Danger of Being Precise

John ArmstrongThe Church

A long time friend, who followed me as the pastor of my second church, wrote me today. He noted that he was tired of wasting time being "theologically precise." Not that theology is bad, he noted, or even inherently wrong. My friend confessed that precise theology became "my idol." He added that this penchant for precision led to his "being driven to have a pure church to the point that I drove people away." That hurts! Me too.

If I have one regret about my reformation journey as a pastor in a real congregation this has to be it. I can forgive my light weight brain for it’s many failures. I can even handle the mistakes of judgment that I made over the course of twenty years. But it is very hard to forgive this—I worked overtime for a "pure church." I did it by using theology in a number of unhelpful ways. And the results were often deeply troubling.

My long time buddy concluded: "I want to speak the truth clearly to the upcoming generations. I want to think outside the boxes that almost collapsed in on me and crushed me!" Wow. Good stuff. What we need, very desperately, is real reformers, not repristinators!!!

I am reminded of the modern day Civil War re-enactor phenomenon. These re-enactors are very ordinary folks, with an extraordinary interest in the Civil War. They dress up in the uniforms of the North and South, take up very old weapons, carry along some of the food of the 19th century, sleep the same tents the troops lived in, the whole thing. They go out on weekend ventures to "become" Civil War soldiers. It all makes for great fun and real excitement. But these are not real soldiers, they are only re-enactors. Too many in the church are evangelical and Reformed re-enactors. May God deliver us from these lovers of the past who do not really live in the present. And may he forgive people like me who pastored like a re-enactor at times.