When we look at our attempts to “do church” throughout the generations we have seen that we make adjustments. We make adjustments at the level of the individual church and we make adjustments at eh level of culture. Some adjustments are in our presentation, such as moving from hymns to worship, and hymnals to Power Point. Sometimes we see that we adjust our orthodoxy in an attempt to be more effective. Some will tighten orthodoxy to be sure that we maintain our saltiness, and doctrinal purity. Others will try to loosen the bounds of orthodoxy in order to be more palatable, or relevant to changing culture. When these adjustments start to happen, these groups often respond and react to each other, each pointing out the others weaknesses, and adjusting their stances and responses to counter the other. One becomes more rigid in response to the other’s becoming lax. The latter becomes more lax in response to the former’s rigidity.
The difficulty here is that the change of “style” and even the adjustments of tightening or loosening our orthodoxy are all first order change. We are adjusting the offense or defense, without consideration of the possibility for a higher order.
When Jesus is approached in (Matthew 22:23-33) by the Sadducees, in order to test Him, they ask Him a question. They tell the story of the seven brothers who married the same woman and each die (I call this the parable of the unwise brothers). They then ask a question about how this plays out in eternity. Jesus’ answer is paradigm shifting.
He says, “You are mistaken not understanding the scriptures and the Power of God…” and then goes on to deliver the rest of the answer. But the real, and most important answer has already been delivered in the above phrase. The men gathered, (and you and I, I might add) do not understand the Scriptures, and, in light of, from the perspective of, the Power of God. In other words we view the scriptures from the earth looking up, instead of from the heavens looking down. Whenever we view the things of God through the lens of men, we have already misunderstood. Like trying to understand an elephant with a microscope, our paradigm will not allow an accurate view of our subject.
Our orthodoxy can be a completely accurate set of gathered doctrines, but viewed through an earthly lens, we will always reduce it to something less than it’s fullness. We can see our doctrines as a rule to be ruthlessly followed regardless of context, or a rule too rigid to accurately represent the Love of God. Both can be the wrong view, because we look not through the lens of “the Power of God” but rather through the lens of earthly application.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not only the Presence of God not the Earth to act on behalf of God and man, it is a paradigm through which our orthodoxy always makes perfect and compassionate sense. If it is not making sense, or it seems to dogmatic, the problem is not the doctrines which we have held so dear, it is the paradigm through which we view our orthodoxy. There is a paradigm intended to govern our orthodoxy that is qualitatively different from that which the human race has been born into.
When we adjust our styles and presentations, or even adjust the parameters of the standards of our faith (in either direction) we are making first order change. When we allow a higher order, or a higher perspective to give us a new view of the same parameters, or stylistic approaches, second order change occurs, and instead of adjusting our approach, we ourselves are adjusted as we choose to know the Scriptures through the lens of the Power and perspective of God, instead of our own knowledge.
We must view all of our expressions of doctrine and church through the worldview that includes both a visible and an invisible world. This in mind we are much more likely to identify and change the right thing.