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Friday, May 25, 2018

A crisis of faith: when the religious bark heresy

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Oh, what a mess the church is in. But it’s almost always been in a mess, made all the worse when men try to tidy her up. Today, more visible than ever through social media, there are sides of religion that actively oppose and war with each other.
A case in point, the Royal Wedding sermon of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.[1] Many Christians have gushed about it, but many also cry heresy. The disagreements are pointed.
It would be okay if those disagreements could be had without slandering people; but we’re all so sin-stained that if we enter into unmediated debate it’s not long and we’re injuring one another.
One side presents the priory of the social justice gospel, missing other components of Jesus’ teaching. The other side majors on the ethics of God lost on the world, missing other components of Jesus’ teaching.
One side woos the world in a world-friendly way that seems to compromise too much. The other side spurns the world in a holy way that seems not to compromise enough.
There’s heresy on both sides if there’s heresy at all. And, of course, John Stott (1921–2011) said just that:
“[E]very heresy is due
to an overemphasis upon some truth,
without allowing other truths
to qualify and balance it.”
The church these days resembles the political arena. Some churches lean left, some lean right, whilst fewer and fewer are centrist, leaving the believing populace to decide in their individual hearts what school of Christianity they will lend their lobby power to.
One of the great distinctives of the Baptist denomination is liberty of conscience. That means that theological differences are to be largely respected. If only we could love one another in our disagreeing with each other. In doing this we would glorify God in acknowledging only God has all theological bases covered, ever.
There are religious on all sides of the spectrum, and I don’t mean ‘religious’ in a complimentary way. The religious seem devoid of the Presence of God to love, which is to be kind, gentle, peaceable, understanding with others to the extent of the second commandment — love one another.
They have their point; their point — their truth — is always paramount, come hell or high water.
For my way of thinking, the religious — whether they be on the left or right, liberals or conservatives — seem to awaken with a bee in their bonnet. It’s always about how life is so unfair or wrong; that people and systems need to be corrected. There’s always such an emphasis on correction and far less or none on commendation. I don’t see how that’s biblical.
The problem with that way of living life is relationships suffer for want of connection.
I’m sorry, but if you want to convince me, you’ll have to connect with me first; you’ll need to show you’re interested enough in listening to me too, and if you can’t, when I’ve listened to you, I’m sorry, but my walls go up. You’ve lost me.
A person convinced against their will
is of their same opinion still.
(Dale Carnegie)
Spewing our opinion over people, no matter how correct it may be, is tantamount to relational heresy.
Build connection first. Only then is influence possible.
But I do acknowledge this: we are all hypocrites and heretics sooner or later. A lack of acknowledgement of this is deception. We’re all wrong so often, but the religious don’t want to abide in that weakness.
Oh yes, I too have my biases.

[1] I think critics of Curry’s sermon may forget the context he was in. It’s a homily for a wedding ceremony.

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