September 1997 — We didn’t have a time machine or a magic carpet, but we did take a whirlwind tour of 2,000 years of church history during four full hours this past Saturday in a seminar titled “Putting the Puzzle Together — Together.” My hosts were two Advent Christian churches in north-central Florida, where I also spoke three times on Sunday. Their gracious Christian hospitality sent me home Sunday night invigorated in spirit even if exhausted in body. I wish to thank Pastors Joe Currens and Butch Nelson in particular, for their hard work in planning, announcing and facilitating these meetings. It was also wonderful to meet several other gracEmail family-members in person.
The “puzzle” in the seminar title refers to the wholeness God desires for his church universal. The premise of the seminar was that each Christian group (denomination, fellowship, tradition) began by a move of God’s Spirit to recover, renew or restore some element of Christian teaching, life or experience which was then dormant, lagging or lacking in the church at large. The point of the four hours was that all of us need all the truth — and that we should not fail to receive it just because someone else found it first.
We also acknowledged that we must learn to “eat the meat and throw away the bones.” (Substitute “wheat” and “chaff” if you prefer a vegetarian analogy.) The danger is that we misuse the truth we do discover, or get it out of balance. We are not naive concerning human beings — especially those who wish to speak for God. Every part of the Church has abuses and extremes, confusions and errors, which we do well to reject and to avoid. But we also need to avoid the mistake of the blind men who touched different parts of the elephant and separately concluded that the animal resembled both a rope and a wall. Their individual truths were not wrong — they were simply incomplete.
The point is not who said it first, but where they got it. If it came from God, it’s for all his people. I want all the truth anyone else has found — and I want to share all that I might have found with others.