I don’t agree with 100% of everything in the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Westminster Shorter or Larger Catechisms.
Our denomination and our presbytery has a process for that. They have a way to figure out what you think because you tell them in writing and then they are able to ask you about your views. The body of elders then votes on whether or not those differing views are allowable and acceptable or if in fact they are of the nature to be harmful to the whole system and thus cannot be permitted as a member of the presbytery.
I don’t agree with every single thing on every single page in over single book on our book table at City Pres. We don’t put our least favorite books out there, and we try to promote ones that we feel are consistent to our vision and mission. We also would like to stir up discussion and get people talking. So we have authors that might have differing positions than ours, and they certainly hold other theological viewpoints. There might be chapters that we’d change if we could. There are ideas that might strike some the wrong way. Some I agree with wholeheartedly. Some I don’t.
When we have people come share about their ministries and work at our CityVision time, I know that there would be things I would do differently. They might emphasize something that I think they should minimize. They might spend money in a way that I think is wrong. They might change their mission slightly and be twice as effective. We may find out they were more correct than we could have guessed, or that we were. They’re our guests and should treat them and their work with honor.
I’ve had other pastors even come and share at City Pres in worship time. Some have preached. Some have talked about their church plants. Some haven’t been Presbyterian. So I know I disagree on theological positions with them. I know we could have great arguments and discussions and conversations that would most likely go nowhere. They are convinced they are right and so am I. But I still am glad to be in ministry with them, and glad we can promote each other’s work because we’re promoting Christ and his work most of all.
Likewise, we link to churches in our city that disagree with all of our theological positions.
We have allowed people to sing songs that we don’t all like. We’ve sung them. And complained.
We hear stories of rescue from people who don’t have it figured out yet and sometimes those people make us mad.
We have heard from CityGroup leaders who soon thereafter disbanded their group. Or done a poor job. Or over-promoted the welcomeness. Or changed the time. Or not provided good enough snacks. Or been poor discussion leaders. Or the group has been too much of a clique. Or…
We have weddings in our building by people who might get divorced. Some probably didn’t love each other in the first place.
We have meetings where we make bad decisions.
We allow sinners into our church every time we take in new members and every time we open the doors.
Every week, our church allows idiotic sinner pastors to get up and say something about the Bible and then to offer forgiveness to those who repent and believe.
I think we’re on the right track with these decisions and these ways of understanding the nature of agreement, promotion and endorsement. Having a fuzzy middle doesn’t mean a slipper slope. There may be and there are mistakes that are made, but that’s always true. Our goal is to work these out and make improvements but to work them out in generosity, kindness and love as we invite others into our midst and perhaps get invited into theirs. We do have boundaries. We do say no. Not everything is okay. We make decisions because we can’t let everything go. We try to do so in love because we want to be a loving people because God loves us when we didn’t have it all right 100% either. Not even close.
When we say we’re for you, that doesn’t have to mean we agree with every single thing. We can be for them in a much more generous, expansive real way than that.