Shifting Baseline of Theology

If you haven’t heard the origin story of a child’s teddy bear, here’s your chance . Modern parents would not think anything of handing their child a stuffed bear to snuggle with at night. But this concept was not commonplace a decade before Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. Manufactured toys were for the privileged and Victorian Era parents would have considered a teddy bear to be “savage”. The only animals on the recreational scene were rocking horses or farm animals, but certainly nothing of the wild variety. So what happened? Why did they become so popular so quickly?

The baseline shifted.

Roosevelt’s act of mercy unintentionally persuaded the audience at large that a untameable bear when manufactured with soft rounded features instead of sharp claws and ferocious teeth was thing of comfort who deserved a place on every child’s pillow. Children from that point on grew up with the reality that a stuffed bear was acceptable & harmless.
I’ve thought about this concept in regards to our spiritual growth. What truths have we come to accept because the baseline of preceding generations shifted?

So for example, what comes to mind when I say speaking in tongues, prophesying, instantaneous healing through the laying on of hands, casting out demons, or raising the dead? Your answer probably depends on the denomination associated with your central beliefs. On the spectrum you have some who believe the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were only given to the Apostles so that they might establish the Church. On the other extreme, I’ve seen classes on teaching you how to speak to tongues. My personal beliefs are somewhere in the middle and that it is contingent on what Christ said in John 14:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

I believe that the Holy Spirit is still very much at work in the lives of believers. Compare this thought to last week’s post that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is at work in you.

I think it’s a call to question what to examine as His disciples what we accept as the truth – what have we lost because the baseline shifted and we just came to believe a certain way because it is what we were always taught? Or because that’s what our pastor believes?

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