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It's Different Here #1 - We Don't Think We Know all the Answers

By:
Carl Ruby

Difference # 1: We don’t think we know all the answers.

*This is the second of a blog series that started last week.

Our first difference refers to what I’ll call institutional humility, knowing the limits of our knowledge and our propensity for getting it wrong. Pastoring a church is hard, but one thing that makes it much easier for me is that I’m at a church that allows me to be normal (i.e., flawed, confused, and frequently wrong). They allow me to freely admit my flaws as a pastor and adjust my beliefs when I discover that I have been wrong in some area. 

We are shaped by the world in which we live. Right now, we live in a world that values being right more than being kind and having the correct answers more than creating safe spaces where people can ask questions. Answers and truth are important but not more than humility, patience, and kindness.

It’s interesting to me that Jesus told stories and asked questions rather than writing doctrinal statements or issuing creeds. Sometimes, he even withheld truth (e.g., “Don’t tell anyone that I’m the Messiah”) until they were able to discover it on their own.

At Central, we embrace complexity, reason, nuance, and openness to change.  We accept tension as a part of learning. We’re not afraid to admit that we don’t have all the answers and acknowledge that we have frequently been wrong. Admitting that we have been wrong in the past serves as a warning that we may be wrong now. We believe that this is the essence of the biblical virtue of humility.

When we experience tension between convincing people to see things our way and welcoming people who don’t, we choose the latter. At Central, we prioritize being the kind of church that welcomes people who have hard questions. We know that it’s not all about us teaching you; it’s also about you teaching us. 

Back when I worked at a Christian university, I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member. We debated an issue, and at one point, I asked, “Have you ever changed your mind on something you believe?”  He said, “No, I learned everything correctly at such and such Bible college, and I’ve never changed my mind.” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

As the pastor, I think and teach that there are certain beliefs we should hold tightly and others that we should hold loosely. I admit that the Bible can be confusing, and well-meaning people can read the same book and arrive at different conclusions.

We keep the list of things we hold tightly short and accept a wide range of opinions on all the other issues.  Here are things we hold tightly.

  • God exists as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and his love is unfailing and never-ending.
  • God inspired the Bible so we can live in relationship with him and each other.
  • God saves and delivers people through Jesus in ways no one else can. 
  • The resurrection happened to Jesus, and it will really happen again for all who trust him.
  • Through Jesus, we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, enjoying it both now and forever. 

You don’t have to buy into each of these premises to come and hang out with us. We seek to be generous in allowing lots of space for people to determine what they believe...because we know that we don’t have all the answers, but we believe that God does.

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