I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. In adulthood I adopted a more Reformed approach to Theology. Right after college I married a beautiful charismatic girl named Jessica Lee. We currently attend a United Methodist fellowship together as a family of four.
I guess you could call me a BaptiCalviMethiCostal. That is, if labels mean anything (I don’t believe they mean much).
Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the different streams of tradition that all end up converging at the same cross. Across the Christian spectrum, there may be many different inclinations towards modes of baptism, communion, and church government. Yet there is also unity in this traditional diversity, just as there is unity in diversity in the very nature of God. Most all Protestant denominations (and many Catholic streams too) grip most tight the same basic doctrines as essential:
Sinfulness of man, Deity of Christ (Trinity), Salvation only through His cross, His physical resurrection, Inerrancy of Scripture, etc.
I always admired the historical friendship of Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. Both men were prominent revivalists during America’s First Great Awakening. Both men were involved in public doctrinal debates during this time, especially over the biblical doctrine of predestination. They were on polar opposite sides of the theological spectrum on some issues. Many believe this strained their longtime friendship, but not if you look at their own words towards the end:
Around this time of controversy, Whitefield was asked this question, “Do you expect to see John Wesley in Heaven?”
“No,” was his reply.
But then Whitefield continued, “John Wesley will be so close to the Throne of Glory, and I will be so far away, I will hardly get a glimpse of him.”
Whitefield died in 1770. Wesley was the primary speaker at his funeral. He shared these words about his friend, George Whitefield, from the pulpit:
“Have we read or heard of any person since the Apostles, who testified the gospel of the grace of God through so widely extended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world? Have we read or heard of any person who called so many thousands, so many myriads, of sinners to repentance? Above all, have we read or heard of any who has been a blessed instrument in His hand of bringing so many sinners from “darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God?”
There are real traditional distinctives that shouldn’t necessarily be ignored. But there is a greater truth still that unites all manner of sinful men under the same banner of the slain Lamb of God.
So it is with me.
I’m sure there will be many brethren from the Lutheran, Anglican, Charismatic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist persuasion and more that I will never see in heaven because of their close proximity to the throne. And if I only currently open my eyes I may also see leaders in those same diverse traditions who preach with bold apostolic fervor the gospel of grace and power in Christ.
So I embrace my BaptiCalviMethoCostalism. There is enough room for all of these and many more at the foot of that one horrible and wonderful cross.