Victor entered into the small and sparsely furnitured room where the pastor’s meeting was held every fortnight with the wariness of a mongoose that was entering into a cobra’s nest. It wasn’t that the room was full of enemies. The other pastors were jovial and collegial enough — the kind of guys who would be great company on the golf course or at a ball game. No, it wasn’t the pastor’s themselves who were the enemies but rather it was their respective worldviews that often played the cobra to Victor’s mongoose.
Rev. Shirley saw Victor walk in and loudly said, half in jest and all in earnest,
“Well, if it isn’t our resident Gehngis Khan Reformed Theologian.”
“At your service, and looking for bad ideas in order to rape, pillage and burn” Victor replied going along with the metaphor.
The gathered group seemed to get a charge out of the levity and the meeting was soon started under sustained gales of laughter and rich bonhomie.
The Pastor’s gathering usually started by discussing contemporary issue. In this context Rev. Marcuse piped up by observing that, ‘we Reformed people need to realize that there are lots of Christians in other denominations.’
Rev. Marcuse, having gained the floor warmed up to his subject.
“We Reformed people are such theological elitists. We think that God is going to ask everybody who stands before the pearly gates when they die whether or not they were Reformed. We need to make our churches more acceptable to people who are coming out of non-Reformed traditions.”
Having heard the voice of Nag, Victor went into Riki Tiki Tavi mode.
“Well, certainly Herb, God isn’t going to quiz people on whether or not they were Reformed or not but He does put a high premium on His people trusting Christ alone which is the one doctrine that separates us from all those Christians that you just said that we need to make our Churches more acceptable to.”
Rev. Marcuse, who knew more about the sociology behind putting the meat in Church seats then he did about theology hissed at Victor.
“So, are you saying that the Reformed Church alone has the Gospel?”
Victor, laconically replied, that while he did not doubt that, due to felicitous inconsistency, there were many Christians in other Christian faith traditions that in point of fact he did indeed believe that the Reformed Church articulated the gospel with a clarity to which no other denomination came close.
Herb, quickly responded by asking, “I don’t know how you can say that.”
Victor sighed wondering how another Reformed pastor could imply that different denominational theologies were like so many Ice Cream flavors at the local Baskin Robbins, each flavor being superior to another only by way of individual preference but all being equal in terms of portals through which individuals might think about the God of the Bible.
All this galloped wildly through Victor’s mind but he only responded by saying,
“Herb, the Theologies of Arminians, as one example, are seriously messed up. I don’t think we can encourage them by communicating that their theology is anything but messed up.”
The Pastor from Mirks Bay, Rev. Standstill quickly intejected,
“But Victor, my Theology is seriously messed up also.”
Now Victor knew that Brian was just trying to be humble at this point but the idea that humility should serve as masquerade for confidence almost pushed him over the edge.
Victor clenched his teeth and bit his tongue at the same time working at finding a measured response.
“Brian, I appreciate the humility that recognizes that everybody’s theology must be constantly Reforming but to throw that comment into this conversation in such a way as to equalize Reformed Theology with Arminian Theology does a great disservice.”
Victor pressed on,
“Come on y’all, if we can’t be confident enough to insist that Reformed Theology is superior in comparison to those other non-gracious systems of thought then we really have to ask why we aren’t working for the end of Reformed denominationalism. I mean, why should we be distinct in any way if we can’t go around insisting that our Theology is THE Theology? Why not return to our communities and work on merging all of the local Churches into one big mega-Church? Why bother signing the form of subscription if you merely believe that your strawberry theology is only personally preferable to the Assembly of God guy’s chocolate theology?”
Herb Marcuse sniffed contemptuously. He had built his mega church by means of a leveling theology where the ‘cringe factor’ of the Gospel had been largely eliminated. The people that attended Herb’s Church wouldn’t recognize Reformed Theology from Mormon Theology and he intended to keep it that way. Herb avoided words like ‘discipline’ and ‘repentance’ and worked hard to finesse sin issues in the congregation as opposed to confront them and he reckoned that Victor should treat him with the same courtesy.
“Besides,” thought Rev. Marcuse, “Victor will never be anything but a fringe player playing the part of the loose cannon.”
The rest of the group shifted in their leather chairs uncomfortably until Rev. Shirley told a joke about a Methodist Pastor, a Reformed Pastor and a Eastern Orthodox Pastor together on a fishing trip. The punch line was something about the Reformed Pastor not bothering to put bait on his line because he figured that God predestined him to catch fish.
Everybody laughed including Victor who was at the same time wondering why he bothered attending these meetings.