I have been in full-time ministry now for 40 years. At this point in my life I am asking some questions, one of which is where do good Christian come from? My conclusion is that no one theological camp produces a better kind of Christian. By better I mean a harvest of the fruit of the Spirit. These kinds of Christians come out of Wesleyans, Calvinists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, whatever. I have spent a lot of time in theological reflection, and I should. But the life in Christ that all Christians enjoy is available to, well, all. For all my nitpicking and fine-tuning of theological systems, it appears that people who love Christ and weave a life out of trusting Him grow.
I do think that theology matters, not so much because of what it enables the individual Christian to be but more because of what it makes Christians able to contribute. If you track these movements, you will find particular impacts upon society and culture. The Reformed have powerfully contributed to the thoughtful shaping of world and life views. The Wesleyans have been salt and light in the dark places, such as the powerful influence of this movement of practical holiness in the face of the sad effects of the industrial revolution in England. The Baptists’ spirit of democracy and the elevation of the common man supported the American political revolution. The Roman Catholic social conscience has kept alive the remembrance of the poor and marginalized, and its insistence on the value of life has put steel in the spine of Christians from all branches to resist the eroding effects of secularism on dignity of life issues.
I think all of this teaches me to spend more time in teaching Christians how to abide in Christ with a bit less emphasis on crossing t’s and dotting i’s theologically speaking. Theology should be taught deeply and constantly. But in and of itself it will not save us. It is the “luminous Nazarene” who saves and those who flee to Him will be gathered into the heart of the Father.