Saturday, June 25, 2011

Christian Unity and Boundaries in Christian Fellowship, Part 1

I haven't written anything for nearly a week, and part of it is that something has been on my mind, but I've been trying to wrap my head around how to express and organize my thoughts. There are two polar extremes among Christians - believers and the nominal - that I think are problematic.

The first is a broad category of excessive exclusion. Some are hard and fast - they really think they're the only ones going to heaven. This isn't just groups like Jehovah's witnesses (who I believe really are not Christians, despite believing that they are). There are folks who I think really are Christian believers, but who think people outside of their group are not. A little softer are folks who think they are somehow elite among believers. These can range from those among Pentecostals and charismatics who think they have some kind of corner on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (been there, heard that, did not buy the T-shirt) to Catholics who believe the Catholic Church is THE church. Then there's what I call heresy hunters, who nominally accept there are believers outside of their particular persuasion, but in practice will nitpick any pretext to preclude fellowship or ministry with outside folk.

On the opposite extreme are those who are willing to accept anyone as a Christian - or every religion as equally valid - regardless of what they believe. Unless god is something every person creates in their chosen image - and what kind of god is that? - there are fundamental contradictions among Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. Reasonably, one could be true or none could be true, but the contradictions among them are too fundamental for all to be true. How can god be, simultaneously, one, many, and non-existent?

There are details of Christian teaching over which Christian believers disagree. There's no denying that obvious fact. But, what are the foundational things which unite Christian believers, but are boundaries that differentiate Christian believers from others (named or unnamed)? Well that's coming in further posts.

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