Thursday, June 30, 2005

Open Christianity

Here is something I wrote a while ago (years) but I have had no where to put it to get feedback and discussion so go to it.

I serve a God, whom I believe to be the only God, of whom I have such an infinitesimal understanding it is boggling to think about the amount of knowledge that I lack yet “He”, possesses. Even the statement “He” is an expression of our cultural need to frame the Almighty God and Creator of all things in a category and context to which we can more easily relate. In reality near as I can humanly deduct “He” is a Spirit as I understand and believe “Him” to have been revealed through scripture and personal experience. Yet when I speak to others I speak as one who speaks for this God, which is in fact what the Bible tells me to do. So often I speak as though I have a perfect understanding of every thing about Him. I tend to act as though, because I have this belief in Him, that my understanding of the world in which all of us live is more precise than those who do not believe in him or at least do not appear to be trying to live the way “I” understand him to be directing us to live.

Maybe in some ways my understanding is more precise, but what if they have a better understanding of the world in certain other areas than I do? Who am I to say that they are always so far off? If we are all searching for the truth about the world around us are we not trying to find the same thing? Even if our beliefs about the world and its origins differ; are we really not still searching for the same thing? Truth is Truth is it not? As it has been stated somewhere “All truth is God’s truth”.

This struggle for truth can be illustrated by considering the subject of math. Mathematical rules are the same no matter what your religion, language, or culture. No matter where you live 2+2=4. Why can we, Christians, not stop and listen to and engage in conversation and critical thought the observations or analysis of all people. Maybe before we throw out all of their ideas, before we flag them all as destructive to our faith we could stop and say “Hey that is a provoking thought let me think about it some more. Are you available to get together to talk about it again sometime soon?” Maybe really other cultures religions and worldviews are not as destructive to our faith as they are to our religious institutions. This might just be the answer here to the why question.

What are we so afraid of? Why in recent history have Christians been so afraid to engage in meaningful discussion with the world in which we live? Are we afraid we might have to adjust the way we think about the Bible & God? Well I am sure that we do have to adjust the way we think about the Bible, God, and the world we live in! Just like the Jewish people needed to readjust their theology and worldview about God when God, Jesus, (just to keep things clear) came to live with them and restore relationship with them again. How ironic is it that the Church, generally speaking, has become the modern day parallel of the Pharisees. We condemn those ignorant, blind, stupid Pharisees, but who is to say we are not doing the same things right now with the ideas and scientific discoveries that surround us. The Pharisees’ world and ideas were being totally challenged by this Jesus guy from nowhere who claimed to be the “Son of God”. Think about that for a minute. Think about the ramification of claiming to be the Son of Yaweh in Jewish culture. Put yourself in their shoes.

So again why are we, Christians, so afraid to explore these ideas and discoveries with the world around us to determine what truth, if any, can be extracted from them for the benefit of society in general.

The Copernican Revolution is a great example of science turning the theological world upside down by claim that the Earth revolved around the Sun. The scientists and priest who believed in these new ideas, and often in God too by the way, were burned at the stake. Which is a simply the most polite historical term for saying they were tortured by being burned alive in front of the entire town. Maybe we are not burning people anymore, but do we ostracize them from our gatherings. Maybe there is no physical scarlet letter, but there is an unspoken stereotype and if we are all honest with ourselves we know this is the truth.

I am writing this to challenge us to think. To reconsider some long held, possibly unconsciously held, paradigms of thought. Why can’t we be more engaging with the world around us and listen to ideas instead of just trying to make it all fit into a framework of thought that I am sure is so skewed, b/c God’s mind is so immeasurable and ours is so feeble in comparison that we will be shocked by our ignorance at the end of this life. Why can we not engage people all of faiths and creeds, those with and without values, that are honestly looking for truth in all arenas of thought in an honest discussion instead of just trying to make them see the world the way we do.

My hope is that the church would become one the greatest institutions of discovery of truth. We do after all believe that we are created in God’s image and in the search for truth really we search for more and more ways we are similar to our creator.

Of this I am sure; I have so much to learn about the world God has placed me in that I have no right to be so arrogant as to think that b/c a fellow human creation of God does not believe what I do about God that they could not have any good thing to offer in the search for truth. As we search for truth I believe we find God.


Dave said...

Hmm. Far 'smarter' I guess you could say than my blog indeed. Interesting.

Hey, I'm Dave. I co-author a Christian blog called the Daily Disciple (I didn't name it).

It'd be cool if you took a looksee at my blog as I have yours. I also have a buddy named Greg, I'm sure you'd love chattin' it up with him. Put you two whizzing brains together. Tremendous.

Cool cool.

Bubbles said...

RE: "Maybe before we throw out all of their ideas, before we flag them all as destructive to our faith we could stop and say “Hey that is a provoking thought let me think about it some more. Are you available to get together to talk about it again sometime soon?” Maybe really other cultures religions and worldviews are not as destructive to our faith as they are to our religious institutions."

Interesting isn't it that this happens even within the religious institutions of 'church'? That one church responds to God in one way and another church in another way? One may clap or dance, another views that as the worse possible way to revere God. And even though we are all on this path together (and if we're truly believers of God, we'll all end up reigning with Him together regardless of our views), there are still those who shun particular actions of praise and worship. Or would never even open up a discussion like this and explore for that truth we seek.

A friend of mine (a nonbeliever) spoke once about how she wishes we could all take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and find the truth. I have to admit that even I caught myself thinking, "Well, we can't do that ever".

But shouldn't we indeed be looking at the world around us (after all God has placed us here) and trying to understand those whom we view as "the others". After all, how are we to reach them for God's glory if we don't take time to talk to them and question their views. As much as we feel they are questioning us, shouldn't we be questioning them? Doesn't the challenge go both ways? Isn't that how we will find truth, win more for Him and ultimately understand God?

Perhaps if we open ourselves up to questioning as such, we truly will have "a new kind of Christian" closer to what God actually had in mind?