There is no shortage of blogs, articles, sermons, status updates, or tweets on any given spiritual topic. In fact, everyone seems to be an authority when it comes to "rightly dividing the word of truth." The Greek and Hebrew scholars seem to disagree with the Old Testament and New Testament Scholars respectively. The Baptists disagree with the Presbyterians. The liberals disagree with the conservatives. Meanwhile, the word of God is treated more like an idol or a storybook than a revelation of God Himself. My point isn't that there aren't scriptural, doctrinal, or moral hills to die on; however, that perhaps those hills should be more carefully chosen. There are at least five such hills that need more prayerful consideration than they currently receive.
1. The Hill of Politics
Politics is an already complicated area, which is even more complicated as it relates to interaction with faith. All too easily believers can fall into one camp or another and fail to truly exercise discernment. Does the Christian life really run parallel to a party line? Brennan Manning offers words worthy of consideration:
The anything-goes passiveness of the religious and political Left is matched by the preachy moralism of the religious and political Right. The person who uncritically embraces any party line is guilty of an idolatrous surrender of her core identity as Abba's Child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses our ragged human dignity.
My intention is not to take a shot at both sides, but to call all believers to be more intentional as they contemplate these various issues. There are weighty matters that need salt and light, yet saltiness and light can only be put into action by the word and the Spirit.
2. The Hill of Preference
Personal preferences have a tendency to be elevated to convictions. One's personal thoughts are considered right while others' thoughts are vilified. The result in our churches is mass confusion over what is right, wrong, good, bad, loving, unloving, wise, and foolish. If we make issues of preference into issues of conviction, then the line between breaking fellowship and establishing distinctions because of practicality is blurred. Such a blurred line prevents the sweetness of community on the one hand and the necessity of real contrast on the other. However, if we relegate preference to its rightful place, then both fellowship and diversity can be preserved.
3. The Hill of Tradition
Tradition often finds its place next to the commands of God. The Pharisees rebuked the disciples for not washing their hands prior to eating (Matthew 15:1–3). On another occasion, Jesus had an encounter with a Pharisee who was astounded that he did not perform the ritual washing before dinner (Luke 11:37-38). In each instance, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees. In the first, he pointed to their elevation of tradition over the commandment of God, and in the second, he contrasted their external cleansing with their internal wickedness. How have we insisted upon the washing of the hands at the cost of Jesus' radical "sermon on the mount" purity (Matthew 5:21–48)? Where have we substituted orthodoxy of tradition for the orthopraxy of transformation?
4. The Hill of History
Church history is not equivalent to doctrinal orthodoxy. Certainly, church history is worthy of our study, learning, comparison, and application; however, if we elevate patristics as equivalent to scripture, then we've traded sola scriptura for what Luther said.