Pick a side.

We humans really love to pigeon-hole things.  It seems to be part our nature.  We need to see things in black and white, as an either/ or proposition. Uncertainties, or hazy gray areas make us uncomfortable.

Despite the fact that so many things in life are part of a continuum; from health and sexuality to simple things such as our favourite movies, we still insist on absolutes. Political affinities, food choices, whether someone is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ person, we like to know just where we, and other people, stand. But things are far more complex than a simple tick in a box indicating a preference.

So, I’ve been wondering, do people who claim affiliation with a particular religious tradition needs to believe in everything that it entails?

Or, to make it all about me, if I claim to be a Christian does that mean that I have to stand by all of the claims of Christianity? My intuitive feeling is yes.

But I find this bit tricky.

If I don’t take on the whole package, am I absolutely not a Christian? Maybe a semi- Christian. Spiritual but not religious? I know that if someone tells me that they are a Christian then I assume that it means that they believe that Jesus was the son of God, sent to die for our sins, etc.

Catholicism has always appealed to me ( and I’m looking forwards to staying here http://www.jamberooabbey.org.au   in August) but adding another layer of rules and stipulations to the fairly basic traditions of Christianity that I already seem to have a problem with clearly isn’t going to work. I can’t even stick to a basic ‘to do’ list without feeling tied down and controlled by ‘the man’  so adding the idea of purgatory, etc seems, how do I say it? Totally arbitrary and random.

At its most simple, surely a Christian is a ‘follow of Christ’; someone who believes that the words that Jesus is supposed to have spoken were revolutionary for their time and still have a resonance that speaks into our modern times.

I get that. That makes sense to me. If we took the red-letters and let them meld into our hearts then we would be transformed and so would our world.

The dying for our sins bit?

Hmmm.

Even though I’m no longer a Materialist, and stories of reincarnation (not PC in Christianity, apparently) and NDEs have caused me to think that there probably is an afterlife, these testimonies indicate a general all loving God who doesn’t discriminate according to the Holy Book that you follow, if indeed you follow any at all, or which geographic region you happen to be born in.

Those that have had Near Death Experiences overwhelmingly report profound changes in their beliefs and what they see as important- not towards legalism and lists but towards overwhelming acceptance and love and a general sense of one-ness (I’ll add a list of books that I’ve found particularly informative here to my reading aspirations page soon) which I think point less towards a complete set of truths within one religion, and more towards a basic, matter of fact thing called God, which we, being general pigeon-holey categorizing types of people, have divided up into factions and separated into us and them.

As we do.

Which seems to be essentially the opposite of what the all loving God intended, but we will be difficult, won’t we?

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Pick a side.

  1. Pigeon holes for demoninations are a man made result not God made. God only said to love Him with all your mind, all your heart, with all your soul and to love your neighbour as yourself.

  2. Hi Eva, there’s some pretty good questions there. Here’s my two bob’s worth ….

    “if I claim to be a Christian does that mean that I have to stand by all of the claims of Christianity?”

    I can’t see how this can be the case, because where is the rule book we all have to follow? The only possibility is the Bible, but there are many things it doesn’t make clear and certain, people interpret it many different ways, and anyway it progress from the early Old Testament through the later OT to the New.

    Besides, how do we even know what a “christian” is, who’s “in” and who’s “out”? Presumably God knows, but he hasn’t told me, and it would be presumptuous for me to make some pronouncement.

    I think God has left things fluid for a reason: he’s not interested in petty legalism and people trying to work out the minimum they can get away with. I think he wants us to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, however we understand that. We will undoubtedly get some things wrong, but he’s after good intentions not passing some test.

    I do think the dying for our sins bit is right, but I think if we truly trust Jesus and try to follow him, then we will please him.

    BTW, I’ve had several (non-Catholic) friends spend time at Jamberoo Abbey and they spoke very highly of their time there. I hope it is the same for you.

    • And that is why you’re one if my favourite Christians 🙂

      I’m excited about Jamberoo. I was planning to go there in December but decided I couldn’t leave the littlest boy for two nights. Hopefully I won’t chicken out again.

  3. I guess I now hold a rather bland (and hopefully harmless) philosophical theism. There are things about Christianity that appeal to me, but mainly as I apply them in a mythological manner. Religious worldviews are only attempts to grasp the ungraspable; we should not be surprised to find truths and errors therein.

  4. Christianity covers a broad spectrum from fundamentalist through moderate to mystical. A lot of stuff that people say is Christian isn’t even in the Bible. The Bible is about the human experience and about our relationship with God and our fellow beings. This stuff is it does teach clearly is fairly basic. Love God, love your neighbor, don’t do what’s evil and destructive, do what’s good and right instead.

  5. Eva,
    You came close when you mentioned simplicity. Closer than a lot of Christ followers.

    It is very simple.

    It’s when everything – figuring it all out, piecing it all together, putting God in a box – everything…
    moves about a foot —-> from the head down to the heart.
    Like you, maybe in some similar ways, I searched and tried and thought and sought…
    but I never really got the truth until I quit using my head to my detriment.
    Then, I was no longer holding a god box.

    Christ, waited. I chose Him.
    He had already loved me.
    Then.
    That’s when I “got it”.
    May He bless you in your seeking.
    Don’t look to Christians… many will be hypocrites. But many, even the ones you put in your box of understanding, are truly living out His love to others.
    Even some of those you feel held World Vision hostage. 😉

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