“Martin Luther’s intensely disliked Jews and wrote essays against them that were resurrected and used by the Nazis. He also advised the German nobles to slaughter the rebelling peasants without mercy. Ulrich Zwingli condoned the torture and drowning of Anabaptists … because they believed in baptism by immersion. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield were slaveholders… The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Asuza Street (1906) in Los Angeles split terribly over race, resulting in black and white churches throughout America for decades. Many leaders of the Protestant Missionary Movement, along with a number of contemporary Evangelical leaders, failed in their marriage and family life. John Wesley, for example, couldn’t live with his wife; his marriage was … deeply troubled.
“We are quick to point out the sins of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches located primarily in the Eastern part of the world (e.g. The Coptic church of Egypt, the Syrian Church, The Russian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, The Armenian Church, the churches located in Iran, Iraq and in the Arab world.) We forget that, for the first 1054 years, there was only one church – the one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal), church. I meet many Christians who ignore this history, acting as if God jumped from the book of Acts to the Protestant Reformation. And [who think] if people are not evangelical or charismatic Protestants, then they are probably not Christian. There is much we can learn from Roman Catholics and Orthodox believers – even though they have plenty of problems and we do not agree on a number of points. Remember, a true believer is someone who has a living relationship with Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our sins, not someone who worships like we do. If we are going to slow down for loving union with Jesus and experience deep transformation, we must learn from those with a long history of learning in these areas. Key dimensions of a full-orbed, biblical spirituality are not strong in American Christianity. Disciplines such as silence, stillness, solitude, and waiting on God, for example, are almost nonexistent in our churches.” Pete Scazzero
“… the truth will set you free.” – Jesus
Moving From Head to Heart
- Different religious traditions emphasize different things. Are you aware of important spiritual practices not emphasized in your tradition?
- All Christians are misguided or misinformed in some ways. Could some Christians, misinformed about some things, know something of value you don’t know about others?
- Does your church communicate the importance of “silence, stillness, solitude, [slowing down] and waiting on God?” – things that work where more information, inspiration and motivation don’t?
Abba, teach us that promised freedom which is freedom indeed.
For More: Finding Our Way Again by Brian McLaren
Thanks for reading/sharing this blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
There are Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians. There are Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists. There are Disciples of Christ. There are Seventh-day Adventists and … Moravians. There are Quakers. And that’s only for starters. New denominations spring up. Old denominations split up and form new branches. The question is not, Are you a Baptist? but, What kind of a Baptist? It is not, Are you a member of the Presbyterian church? but Which Presbyterian church? A town with a population of less than five hundred may have churches of three or four denominations and none of them more than a quarter full on a good Sunday. There are some genuine differences between them, of course. The methods of church government differ. They tend to worship in different forms all the way from chanting, incense, and saints’ days to a service that is virtually indistinguishable from a New England town meeting with musical interludes. Some read the Bible more literally than others. If you examine the fine print, you may even come across some relatively minor theological differences among them, some stressing one aspect of the faith, some stressing others. But if you were to ask the average member of any congregation to explain those differences, you would be apt to be met with a long, unpregnant silence. By and large they all believe pretty much the same things and are confused about the same things and keep their fingers crossed during the same parts of the Nicene Creed. …Then add to that picture the Roman Catholic Church, still more divided from the Protestant denominations than they are from each other [and the Orthodox church], and by the time you’re through, you don’t know whether to burst into laughter or into tears. …When Jesus took the bread and said, ‘This is my body which is broken for you’ (1 Corinthians 11:24), it’s hard to believe that even in his wildest dreams he foresaw the tragic and ludicrous brokenness of the Church as his body. There’s no reason why everyone should be Christian in the same way and every reason to leave room for differences, but if all the competing factions of Christendom were to give as much of themselves to the high calling and holy hope that unites them as they do now to the relative inconsequentialities that divide them, the Church would look more like the Kingdom of God for a change and less like an ungodly mess.” Frederick Buechner
“so that they may be one as we are one.”
Jesus in John 17:11
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- By some estimates there are 41,000 denominations. Could your group really have cornered the truth?
- Pick a group that differs from yours (evangelical, Catholic, Episcopal, Quaker). Can you list weak points in your group and strong points in the other one? Are you open to learning from others who identify as Christians but have views different from yours?
- Jesus spoke of a unified church. What can you do to practice this “oneness?”
Abba, help us!
For More: Whistling in the Dark by Frederick Buechner
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)