In the previous post I endeavored to put forth a useful framework to describe how a healthy Christian disciple holds their beliefs. This framework was the result of bringing together two paradigms which initially contrasted opposing ideas.
The first paradigm contrasted bounded set beliefs with centered set beliefs. Bounded beliefs are those which place firm boundaries on who is “in” or “out” of any given community; be it a community of faith, politics, or some other shared values. Centered beliefs place less emphasis on boundaries and are more concerned about the direction an individual is headed in. You may not need to agree with us on everything, but if you like the idea of where we’re going then you’re welcome to come along.
The second paradigm contrasted a posture of being truth-possessed with a posture of truth-pursued. To be truth-possessed is believe to some degree that you possess the total truth and that you have the right to determine who has access to that truth. Someone who has a truth-pursued posture might believe that truth is out there, but it is always something to strive for, that can never be totally attained.
Rather than setting each of these four ways of believing against each other, I instead set each on their own spectrum ranging from health to unhealth; from the strengths of each posture to its weaknesses. My argument was that each of these four attitudes can inform what it means to be a healthy Christian disciple. Rather than setting firm beliefs against loose beliefs, we are closer to what Jesus asks of us if we discover how to hold firm convictions with kindness, charitability, and a willingness to admit we still have much room to grow.
The result of this argument was the chart you see pictured here, which is larger in the previous post. I concluded my argument with this summary of a healthy Christian disciple:
When we put these paradigms together, we get a picture of what Christians look like when they hold their convictions with charity and kindness. A healthy posture of belief holds clear convictions about orthodox doctrine (John 17:17, Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 15:2) while acknowledging that our perspective is limited and fallen (1 Corinthians 13:12) and needs to be constantly informed by the knowledge and perspective of others (Proverbs 27:17, Ephesians 4:15). Healthy Christian communities prioritize care for insiders (Galatians 6:10), never to exclude outsiders (Colossians 4:5-6), but to demonstrate and live into the love of Christ to the world (John 17:23). Kind, Christlike disciples emphasize agreement and unity wherever possible (Mark 9:38-41, Philippians 1:15-18).
This encompassing framework is the foundation for the point I’m really trying to make in this series, which is this: Confessionally Reformed Christians (those who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith) have great reason to be those who demonstrate convictions with kindness and charitability. While I originally intended to write one more post to make this point, in order to do this subject justice (and be kind to readers!), I’ll be building this argument over the next four posts in the coming weeks.