Friday, July 8, 2011

Christian Unity and Boundaries in Christian Fellowship, Part 6

Well, this next post isn't quite coming together as I'd hoped it would. Usually, I've found that means that I'm trying to bite off too big a chunk to chew over in a single blog post. And in the background, in the real life that keeps calling to me, important stuff is going to be happening that may mean a week-and-a-half break from my blog. My wife, family and friends are very much the higher priority. So I'm going to post what I've written so far of the next in this series of posts, leaving off with hints of what I'll be returning to in a couple of weeks. I may find time to post to my blog during that time, but I don't think I'll post on this topic, as I anticipate that the next couple of posts will require a bit of Bible research and fairly careful writing.

Much of my previous 5 posts about the essentials of the Christian faith have been organized around and about Fundamentalism and the core teachings of historic Fundamentalism. Am I, then, a Fundamentalist? If it isn't obvious from previous posts, I agree that Fundamentalism's key teachings are at the core of the Christian faith. And I am in agreement concerning those teachings. But there are finer points – from my point of view, of course – of teaching and practice in which I differ from most Fundamentalists, and which would make me a less than excellent fit in a Fundamentalist church. But they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and most would recognize me as such as well.

My previous two posts covered the items in the two lists of Fundamentalism's fundamentals. As I said previously, those lists were one of two reference points around which I'd be organizing this series of blog posts. The point has come where I will begin to use that other reference point, Hebrews 6:1-2.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (ESV)

Most of the teachings listed in this passage have already been touched on: repentance; faith in God; the resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. But what's this about “washings” and “the laying on of hands”? What is referred to as “washings”? And who thinks of “the laying on of hands” as a basic Christian teaching? If at all?

Some have tried to take these verses to refer to things of the old covenant, which Christian believers should leave behind. It may be that these two items are what leads them to that view. But that isn't the meaning of the text. The ESV, quoted above, and the NAS, "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity …", faithfully capture the meaning of the Greek text of Hebrews. These things are basic Christian teachings - “doctrine of Christ”, “teaching about the Christ”. These are teachings, not to be left behind, as if abandoned, but to be left as a builder “leaves” the foundation to build the rest of the house.

So, I'm leaving off at this point, letting my readers, if any, to think about what “washings” and “the laying on of hands” might mean. I can't resist it … I'll drop a couple of hints. Find out what the Greek word is that the ESV and NAS translate as “washings”. And use a concordance or online search site to find New Testament references to people laying on hands in Christian ministry.

No comments:

Post a Comment