Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gatekeepers and Pilgrims?

I am so sick of this "gatekeeper" closed minded terminology versus "pilgrim" on a journey and open-minded rhetoric.

Let's actually ask a few questions to see what Christianity is both biblically and historically.

Can the prophets of the Hebrew Bible be described as gatekeepers because they condemn the wayward theology and practices of those claiming to be of God by telling those who practice such that they are not really the people of God and that God has rejected them?

Can Jesus be considered a gatekeeper? Isn't He the ultimate Gatekeeper? No one can be saved if he does not adhere to what Jesus says and commands. Everyone else is not a believer according to Jesus.

Can the apostles be considered gatekeepers? They deny that anyone who practices things that run contrary to what the Bible teaches are not going to enter the kingdom of God, that anyone preaching a variation of the gospel, another Jesus, or another God are not of the Spirit of God and are damned. They also tell us that we should fight in the war of ideas, pulling all ideas under their teaching that exalts Christ and contend earnestly to preserve the faith from alternate versions of it.

Can the Church Fathers be considered gatekeepers? They, in like manner, deny anyone is a Christian who teaches an alternate gospel, view of Jesus, God, man, etc. They kick out tons of people they label as heretics who do not hold to a specific creed.

Can the Reformers be considered gatekeepers? Did they not fight against anything as non-Christian and antichrist that did not accord with what they considered sound doctrine?

Can the Puritans be considered gatekeepers? Do I really need to even answer this one?

In short, "gatekeeping," the idea that Christian teachers are charged with the task of distinguishing between the spirits of Christ and antichrist, rebuking, correcting, exhorting Christians in the truth that exalts Christ, and rejecting anyone who advocates a different God, Jesus, gospel, etc. as anathema sounds like something every responsible teacher should be doing.

Does that mean that the gatekeepers aren't pilgrims too? That depends upon what you mean by that. The way it is used today, they aren't. They have achieved a sufficient understanding of certain doctrines surrounding the identity of God, Christ and the gospel, as well as to understand what is good and evil, in order to stand at the gate and guard the sheep.

But what most mean today by the term "pilgrim" is one who has not come to any firm enough conclusions, or does not take those conclusions seriously enough, to exclude others from the group. The pilgrim is always learning and so can never be right enough to put his foot down when one contradicts a truth. In this way, "pilgrim" means much more than "teachable." Instead, it really means "permissive" and "flexible" in terms of what he allows within the group.

Of course, no one is a pilgrim when it comes to race issues. No one is a pilgrim when it comes to pedophilia. No one is a pilgrim when it comes to the idea that the God isn't like the Hindu god Kali. They're a bunch of gatekeepers when it comes to that. In fact, I'd argue that they're a bunch of gatekeepers when it comes to their alternate interpretations and ideological emphases.

If one wants to be like those condemned in Timothy as "those who are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth," that's his business. But making a false dichotomy between gatekeepers and pilgrims is nonsense. Everyone fulfills both of these roles. It just depends on what gates are being tended and what roads are being traveled.

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