In Reflection of Good God Almighty, Part 1

If you have been a part of or followed RCC for any amount of years, you know that my preaching style tends to go after difficult issues, challenges comfortable norms, and digs into meanings behind the surface. I aim to preach with accuracy, passion, and vulnerability. Yet, in my humanity, my passion may eclipse my vulnerability, and my vulnerability may make suspect my accuracy. And in your humanity, sermons that press against accepted rationales, at times can bring new Biblical insights, greater spiritual freedom and, at other times, can unnerve and destabilize your accepted ethos. 

This reality means in any given season, liberation and greater worship are being produced in many, while some are taking offense and feeling insecure. And every now and then, I preach a sermon series in which the extremes of both realities are made manifest. Our most recent series, Good God Almighty, has been such a series. 

The goal of Good God Almighty was to free us in the knowledge and experience of God's love, that we would learn to worship God as a response to a love that endures forever. But to get us to that place, we first went after that which stands in the way for many to receive such knowledge and experience. More often than not, this barrier is unbiblical thinking that perceives God's disapproval for, and subsequent distance from, the core of our beings. 

This inward sense of our Creator's disapproval and distance of who we are contributes to such a deep shame that even the cross and resurrection of Jesus, though bridging the eternal divide of our sin and God's forgiveness, cannot often bridge the divide embedded in our own conformed thinking. Though we go through the rituals of prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance, some of us continue to hide the depths of our being from the presence of God, like Adam and Eve, despite the truth of His continual search for us. Our experiences in this life predominately teach us the need to hide in shame, but what is most unhelpful are manufactured doctrines that confirm that which feed a negative narrative of our existence, especially when such declarations conflict with much of scripture. 

Over the next series of blog posts, I aim to clarify a few key truths in hopes of bringing a more full understanding and greater freedom to lean into this God who draws close to cover our shame and who seeks to submerge our identity in the full knowledge of His love. 

I want to finish this first blog post by reiterating doctrine itself: 
  • Doctrine is man's attempt to bring together various scriptures to support a particular understanding that a group of people eventually accepts as dogma. 
  • While scripture is divinely inspired and should be accepted as a Truth outside our truths, doctrine comes from man and, as such, should never be blindly accepted and always challenged. 
  • The doctrine of Original Sin was not a doctrine of the church for the first 1500 years of Christianity and still is not accepted as a doctrine in many Christian denominations. 
  • Original sin does not show up in any early church creeds, is not essential to salvation, and is not listed in our core beliefs at RCC. 
  • At RCC, we aim to hold any Biblical tensions not explicitly stated in our core beliefs loosely to allow for different viewpoints and insights to challenge our own while remaining in a loving community as the Body of Christ. 
  • What I preached concerning original sin does not represent an official stance of RCC, but rather is a reflection of my theological struggles and study over a number of years. I freely admit I may be wrong about it all. I suggest, in fact, you should be wary of anyone who claims to have absolute knowledge and is beyond questioning. My consistent encouragement is for you to do your own study on such things before you accept them as truth. 
  • To remain open-handed is to expect sermons that will sometimes set us free and sermons that sometimes will rightfully challenge comfortable assumptions and at times touch on triggers. All of this serves a more powerful purpose of growth than those sermons with which we only ever and easily agree. 

In the next blog post, I will write more about the necessity of this uncomfortableness in our spiritual growth. 
Vincent Donnachie, Pastor

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