What happens to communication when people use the same words but define those words in very different ways? What if one person makes use of a dictionary to provide definitions and the other chooses to use a more "free-form" approach, focusing more on intuitive meanings? The outcome will eventually result in communication failure, due to unmet expectations and misunderstood intent. To push the point further -- if people having this hypothetical discussion don't share the same underlying principles for discussion, interaction, and truth, there will be much more than a failure to communicate. The result will be more like folks who don't speak each other's language trying to carry on meaningful discourse.
Take for example a flyer that came in my mailbox today addressed to "Resident" with the heading:
What if you and your best friends could reinvent how Church works?
Would you make it so that it wasn't just one person talking at you but everyone talking with each other?
Would you make it so experiments and experiences were more important that doctrine and dogmatism?
Would you make it easier to get to know people you have things in common with?
Based on this flyer, I can conclude that "Church" is an invention that can be reinvented according to preference. Also, doctrine and dogma are trumped by personal experiments and experience. And lastly, the common bond at "Church" needs to be something more than the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Along with times, dates, and location, the flyer pointed to a web address that offered the additional info:
The Journey is a church formed by people who don't like what normally passes for church. We started six years ago but this summer, we decided we want to reinvent ourselves. Mostly because we want to make sure we’re still the kind of church you'd like to be a part of.
We don't pretend to understand all of who God is. But our approach is to connect with Jesus and each other as we try to integrate faith in our lives.
We think relationship is better than judgment. We suspect asking questions is as important as finding answers. We think honesty and openness is better than the hypocrisy that passes for religion.
If we sound like the kind of people you'd like to be a part of, we want to meet you.
If spirituality intrigues you, but religion turns you off, join us as we recreate a place that all of us have ownership in.
The invitation explained that this group "intentionally sought out innovative methods to create a spiritual community of people who are growing in their understanding of God and who Jesus is." (Note: They are not suggesting that we should fear God and keep His commandments.)
Furthermore, they want all of us "Residents" to help them "design what happens not just on Sunday but during the rest of the week" as well. And, their "unique process gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to contribute to building a community of faith that fits their lifestyle." (Emphasis added.)
The words certainly do sound like words I have definitions for, but obviously my definitions would be very different from their definitions. I suppose that a culture that has made serious business of re-defining God, the family, the Constitution, and American History, to name a few, was bound to pick on the Church next. Who knows, before we are done, the need for dictionaries will be obsolete. After all, with re-inventing (re-defining) taking place, why codify anything at all? It might just become doctrine or dogma (as if their view isn’t).
Once again, if the education of young and old alike doesn't hammer home the point that there is NO NEUTRALITY, then we can assume new "churches" like the one advertising to me will be able to claim the high ground while busily perverting and nullifying the holy Word of God.
Where will Christian young people learn how to think if not in Christian schools and homeschools that deliberately and faithfully teach all subjects and disciplines from an orthodox and consistent biblical worldview? The resources and materials are out there to help this take place. Chalcedon's store is a good place to start. Cornerstone Christian School in California is offering online classes for high school students. Any parent who wants some inexpensive, yet very impressive course offerings, would do well to use these tools (either for educating themselves or their children) to stem the tide of all the current journeys to nowhere that our culture offers.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].