I am not seeking after novelty or trying to impress, I simply have an idea for you to think about and I would love to hear your thoughts.
I find that many Christians struggle with other Christian traditions that are different from theirs. Yes, this is a pejorative type discussion, we we have all meet people like this. You know, the Baptist that thinks lesser of the Methodist because the sprinkle instead of immersion. The Bible Church’er who with great confidence just knows the Assemblyof God and Pentecostals are so off on their healing and prophecy beliefs. Or the Charismatic who believes all those churches with boring music and passive worship services just are not filled with the Spirit. No matter the tradition, they all seem to look on at other traditions with an “us – them” mentality. (FYI, I have personally heard every one of these from different people)
So here is my question? What if God is working with all these traditions simultaneously in time and allowing all these differences to co-exist at one time and it all still be considered to be “Truth.”
Now, please know I don’t have so much as a good biblical argument for this idea it is simply something I connected in my own head. No doubt there is work to do to discover this concept to be within God’s revelation, but for now I am just putting the idea out there.
The idea started with thinking about dispensationalism. On aspect of dispensationalism is that God has related to human beings in different ways at different times known as dispensations or periods in history. This is a linear view of how God has interacted with people in different ways. So, in the past, were not the ways God was dealing with his people different from other times? Did God change? No, he simply changed what he was doing. Thus, if God can do this in a linear fashion, why can’t he also do this in multiple ways at the same time…hence simultaneously expressing himself through multiple traditions that do not agree in every area of doctrine but still remaining all truth.
Now, before i go much further, let me assure you that all traditions that are Christian adhere to the core orthodox beliefs of the faith that have been passed down throughout Church history. I am not talking about God changing to this extent. Core beliefs such as, The nature of God as Triune, The Person and Work of Christ as both God and Man, Salvation by Grace through Faith, and the Nature and Effects on Sin. Even within these there is some disagreement within term meanings and how things work.
Now that we have that out of the way, back to the point of this post. Perhaps God is so great and so big that he can work through his people through many different expressions and allow for what seems to be multiple disagreeing truths within those traditions and maybe that’s okay. Maybe we should view other traditions that are not like ours and see them as our brother and sister in Christ. Yes, they may not worship like you, Yes, they may not do the Lord’s supper and Baptism the way you do. Yes, their emotions to their loving creator may not look like your emotions. However, we are all unified in the things that matter most and perhaps the idea of Simultaneous Ecclesiology Dispensations can help us to frame what a beautiful picture that God has created in this Church Age.
One more additional thought: I actually thought about drawing the distinction as Macro Dispensationalism and Micro Dispensationalism. That might help some people to picture what I am talking about. However, the idea of Micro didn’t really capture the time aspect of this idea.