Fourth, we watch our assumptions. We reject the temptation to think that nothing can be learned from those outside our tradition. We don't believe that God has only given his wisdom to us, a small segment of the Christian church. This does not mean we lack confidence in our tradition, but we are humble in what we believe and are willing to learn from others. We reject the idea that our tradition's distinctives are more important than the doctrines and practices we share with other traditions. We agree with Frame that the most important things are those that are most broadly confessed across denominational and theological traditions.



Fifth, we have a low bar for membership. We don't require a member to subscribe to anything that is outside the bounds of Nicene Christianity and other evangelical churches. Prospective members don't need to agree with every aspect of our theology. We rally around the unity of the gospel, and tolerate differences, particularly on matters like eschatology, baptism and covenant theology, even as we look to teach, deepen and mature our people, growing them in the Scriptures and in appreciation for our historic creeds and confessions.



Sixth, we recognize that growth takes time. Each believer or new convert comes to us at a different stage of growth. Even church leaders, me included, have some growing to do. Growth is a process; we can't expect members to be spiritually mature from the start. Certainly, God calls us to guard all his truth, "once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 1:3Jude 1:3). But there are some areas where the church has to admit it does not know everything. We are not infallible and neither is our tradition. This is why differences remain among Christians. We accept this reality, working together to grow in our understanding and maturity. We need to be patient with people and hope they are patient with us. At Redeemer we try to cultivate patience. This creates a safe environment to learn and grow. And we have seen tremendous growth in knowledge and grace among our people.



My dream is that this kind of unity would take place between the traditional and emerging churches. I hope that both sides would work hard to understand each other, finding agreement on classic orthodoxy and striving to maintain unity even though there are second-tier differences.



In the chapters that follow I will do my best to model this quest for unity, even as differences are discussed and an alternative vision is worked out. Moreover, it is my hope that the deep church I propose will be a road map for unity. Learning from traditional and emerging voices, I believe that deep church moves beyond them to a more excellent way—mere Christianity.

Taken from deep church: a third way beyond emerging and traditional by Jim Belcher. Copyright(c) 2009 by Jim Belcher.

Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515.