When I return, Lord willing and unless I change my mind, I want to re-cover the basics of grace, sin, forgiveness, fellowship, and damnation. In other words, What must I do to be saved? and What will cause a saved person to be lost? and How should church discipline be exercised?
To me, these are topics that even the N. T. Wrights and Richard Hays of this world rarely address. Sometimes the topics are addressed in part by the scholars, but rarely in full — as a whole topic.
And, yet, to me, these topics are the blocking and tackling of Christian leadership. When Alabama prepares for a bowl game, Coach Saban puts his team through basic blocking and tackling drills — whereas many coaches try to add fancy new schemes and plays in the extra days of preparation. Saban’s four national championships speak to the wisdom of his approach. He figures that after a 12-game season, the players get caught up in the schemes and plays and forget what they learned in high school — how to block and tackle.
In church life, we tend to get caught up in the latest fad on church growth or eschatology. It’s fun to learn new things. But we often get so caught up in the new stuff that we forget the old stuff — like who is lost and who is saved.
You see, the lost/saved question tells me whom I should treat as a brother or sister. It may require me to treat other congregations or even other denominations as fellow Christians
— which should affect how I practice my Christianity. Or it may require me to treat some supposed believers as strangers to the truth and among the lost.
This question also tells me who is in jeopardy of falling away — and from a pastoral position, what could be more important than knowing whether a sheep has strayed from the fold? I mean, sometimes we spend all our energies damning the saved rather than saving the damned. And God cannot be pleased with such a horrible mistake.
Now, I’ve not forgotten that I need to address the question of how the gay marriage question affects whom we fellowship as a fellow Christian. I’ve addressed that question in recent comments — in part — but I’ve not laid out a truly complete understanding of the underlying doctrine.
Much of this will be old hat to long-time readers, and I’ll necessarily overlap material in my books. I apologize for that. But it’s important to cover the same ground again because, as is obvious from the comments, we don’t have a common understanding on how to block and tackle. And that’s a problem.