Now we come to one of the most dangerous things I have read thus far in Bean’s book. This is the discussion she has concerning experiential defined faith. She quotes from Sweet, “This culture is not interested in attaching to or debating beliefs…people today ‘don’t want their information straight. They want it laced with experience. He says, “Truth resides in doings as much as documents.” I see partial truth in this one. Yes, we must live out our faith. But our living out must be directed by our doctrine and our doctrine comes from our documents. If the Bible is to be seen as authoritative in our lives then it must be given a high position of influence and respect in our lives. We must attach to our beliefs or we are left with nothing but subjective relativism. We must debate beliefs because beliefs are founded on arguments which are derived from evidential support. A belief without support is to me is nothing but an opinion. Lacing things with experience is fine as long as the experience does not determine truthfulness.
To make matters worse, Bean states that “people are hungry not for information, apologetics, or rules but their own spiritual experience.” So no information, no reasoned faith or rules but simply one’s own spiritual experience. Smacks of relativism once again. No accountability to propositional truth. Too subjective for me. Colossians 2:8; “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Human traditions can be individualistically or culturally derived. This is why Christ becomes the one who sets the standard and not man and his personal experiences. There must be a doctrine to fall back on. The church helps to protect the transmission of that doctrine. Left to the individual, corruption is much too readily achieved.
Bean continues to write, “Truth resides in relationships, not documents or principles…Not until the fourteenth century( at the earliest) did truth become embedded in propositions or positions.” Really? If the Bible is not propositional and positional truth, I don’t know what is. Not sure where or how Bean comes up with such a statement. The Bible proposes the Truth and its position is that Truth lies within Christ.
Colossians 2:3; “ In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Truth residing in relationships is once again subjective. Bean appears to be trying to say that we must be the Church. And I agree. She seems to desire for relationships to form with others in order to live out the faith. I agree. But too much emphasis on the individual is being made throughout the book. The Christian faith is one that emphasizes the formation of a community of faith coming together to do the work of the ministry, to be instructed in the acceptable doctrine of that community and above all else to see God’s Word as authoritative for faith and practice. I am not seeing those distinctions thus far in Bean’s book.
I have thus far not seen clearly what Bean sees as the mission of her non-goer church. I have seen much from Bean that the church community can work on but it can be worked on from within the established church without redefining traditional church.
A closing statement from Bean on this subject, “But for those who identify themselves as ‘spiritual’ the word represents a way of life that isn’t fettered by rituals, rules, and beliefs that feel irrelevant. It is relational and vibrant.” Look at the choice of words. Fettered implies bound by chains. Do the rituals, rules, and beliefs bind the Christian with chains or does it free and equip them to share the truth which is found in Christ with conviction? And to the word irrelevant. This implies to me that she feels these things no longer apply. Which then implies to me that there is another set of propositions that she lives by other than the established Word of God. We all live by a worldview and its assumptions. What matters is where these assumptions have their origin. Is it in man or in God? One is humanistic and the other is Christian. We have to be careful for humanistic thoughts poison slowly. 2 Timothy 4:3; “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”