This weekend I am speaking at a Salvation Army conference on my theological and missiological understanding of Scripture in regards to bridge building. Here is a small intro to what I will talk about. And thanks to this United Kingdom series I coincidentally was asked the exact question:
Are there particular biblical principles of mission and evangelism which shape your work?
I delve deeply into what I call the Theology of Bridge Builders: The Big 5, in my book, Love is an Orientation. Instead of just repeating what I wrote in my book, I will focus here on a few other biblical principles I rely heavily on.
The Kingdom of God is inherited through belief (John 3:5-8)
I feel that so often, especially when talking about the GLBT community, theological conservatives focus so intently on behaviour modification that they completely forget about what it means to live and thrive in a baseline belief in God through Jesus Christ. I mentioned this in response to an earlier question, but what does it mean for us to be a true come-as-you-are-culture that works on God’s timetable, not on ours? I am not saying that any and all behaviours are biblically acceptable but what I am saying is that looking generally at Christendom, the proper progression of faith is not starting in the right place.
Faithful commitment over time is success (Proverbs 16:3)
What if a GLBT person never agrees with a conservative interpretation of Scripture? What if they accept Jesus Christ and then pronounce they are a gay Christian? What if they say they hear God clearly tell them that living in a same-sex, committed and monogamous relationship is a blessed, God-ordained way of life? Have you not done your job? Did you fail? Are you not fulfilling even the most baseline of Christian standards? The answer is that a faithful commitment to God is already a success. The more accurate translation of Proverbs 16:3 is, ‘commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will be established’. Success in God’s eyes is completely different from our modern understanding of the term. The fallout from this incorrect alignment leads to a creation of false expectations for ourselves in comparison to God’s biblical promises.
There are two main Kingdom differences between establishing and succeeding. First, establishing is rooting your motives and actions in God’s unknown process while succeeding is beating the competition with tangible outcomes that the mainstream (whether secular or religious) deems worthy. Second, establishing is the spiritual understanding that there is personal contentment in faithful commitment. This is not an excuse to be lazy but it is the Kingdom parallel to the flesh’s second version of succeeding which is having contentment in knowing the outcome. Christians today set themselves up for this disconnect because most of us only use a model of success versus Failure, a model created with the rise of an ‘advanced’ Western mindset of philosophy, evolution and business. All of those have since led us further from Christ’s metric of success.
I believe the Bible is the Word of God, breathed by the Holy Spirit through human authorship. With that as my framework, Romans 3:23 communicates that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In addition to each of our imperfections as humans striving to be formed closer to God’s image, we must also remember James 2:10: from a Kingdom perspective, if you commit one sin it is as if you have committed them all. So then, biblically speaking, what separates my sin from anyone else, whether purposeful or not? Nothing.
A humble servant is an effective leader (1 Corinthians 9:22)
‘I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some’. This was lived out by Paul and modeled first by Jesus (Matt. 7:1-6 among many other references). It’s such a simple concept and yet so difficult to live out. Proverbs 16:7 says that if your ways are pleasing to the Lord even your enemies will live at peace with you. This verse is not saying that you just live at peace with your enemies. It is saying that they will reciprocally live at peace with you. Is your life and your love permeating so much that even your enemies recognize and revere the God behind it? This is the type of humbleness that relentlessly pursues, serves and loves despite social, cultural, political or religious norms, doing so until they can’t see you anymore because they can only see Christ in you and, because they are at peace with that, they are also at peace with you. All possible means that I might save some …
 Marin 2009: Chapter 7 (pp114-39). Although based on some of the texts traditionally used to support a conservative stance on homosexuality, it is important to recognize that my Theology of Bridge Builders is not a substitute for a traditional interpretation of Scripture. That is one of the biggest misconceptions from people reading my book through a lens of conservative skepticism. The Big 5 Principles are rather a new theological starting point of common ground working towards biblical reconciliation between two communities who don’t agree on much.