We are now in the second half of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? He has affirmed the Messiahship and the deity of the Lord Jesus, saying that “Jesus is worthy of our highest praise and ultimate loyalty” (71).
This chapter on “Jesus’ Priority” is sub-titled What Matters Most. Thielen tells several stories about himself and others coming to realize that the Great Commandment — to love God and others — is what matters most. He laments having to leave his original denomination when it moved from being “open-mined” to being “closed-minded and fundamentalist.” He resigned his church in Hawaii and searched for a new denomination.
He realized that what mattered most was not a huge career or a prestigious denominational position, but whether he loved God and others as we are taught in Mark 12. He says from that point on (in 1994) the bottom line became: Relationships — with God and others — matter most.
MY RESPONSE: I am thankful for Thielen’s wise words about the Great Commandment. I am grateful for the experiences he had that recalibrated his priorities. And I certainly agree that a heartless, unbending fundamentalism (on issues that don’t matter) is repulsive and sad.
But we’ve seen in the previous chapters that Thielen has some serious problems with a high view of inspiration, with Jesus’ being the only way to salvation, with clear statements in Scripture about sexuality. It seems to me that he has one foot in the boat of liberalism and one foot on the dock of deep spirituality. And that’s a rough place to be.