One of our modern-day, evangelical methods for holiness and purity in the church has been what are called “accountability groups.” An accountability group takes many forms–two, three, or eight people–who meet regularly. Some groups have a list of questions to go through, while other groups sit over coffee and let words be shared as they come to mind, whatever the topic of the day might be. The majority of our questions revolve around behavioral questions: have you looked at anything you should not have, have you loved your spouse in an honorable way, have you faithfully read the Scriptures this week.
If we are to pursue true holiness, the object that we pursue must be true. That may seem obvious enough, but so many people do not act accordingly. In an age where “spirituality” is defined by ethereal experience and some kind of nebulous deity, holiness is a foreign word. In some people’s religion, it is a four-letter word. Paul exhorted Timothy to pay close attention to his life and his doctrine. These two cannot be divorced. As A.W. Tozer said, what we believe about God is the most important thing about us. While we pursue holiness as the people of God, we must include, with our questions regarding ethics, questions also pertaining to our doctrine. When we ask if we have looked at something we should not have, instead of including only pornography, we should also include theology that is not considered orthodox. Pornography is not the only moral issue in our lives. We need to remember that wrong views of God (theology) are also sinful. For those that are not as discerning in what they read, we could make the question broader to be: “What have you read over the past week?”
This may seem like a silly issue to even write about when we speak of theology for all people, but it is an underlying problem in every accountability group that is not asking questions related to theology. I am not arguing for a mere group of puffed up minds. Rather, I am pushing on us to become a community of believers, who believe what it true, noble, and pure. If a group of armchair theologians get together for the fun of debate, this is not accountability.
I have been the instigator of too many conversations that merely puffed up. I have touted the latest esoteric book I just finished with no attempt to speak about its conviction in my life. I have tried to glean as much knowledge from people I interact with without seeking to have my life changedAccountability is going further than talking about the sovereignty of God. It is asking what you believe to be limits of God’s rule in your life. Once that is explicated, we then move on to how this has affected you over the past week. Did you go to a website you should not have? Did you think about God’s omnipresent, sovereign rule while you were clicking away?
What I am arguing for is that as community-dwellers, we begin to enter into discussions about theology in such a way that it is not mere academia. If we stop with theology without delving into the depths of the moral implications, we will be clanging cymbals.
If we speak about our ethic without making explicit the theology grounding it, we will become hypocrites.
Our theology must be tested through the fires of community.In the next post I will talk about how we can begin to wed the two – life and doctrine.