Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Hyper-exclusivity

Filed under: creeds,Doctrine,Unity — Henry Imler @ 11:40 pm

The follwoing is a response of mine to Blair’s objections to Andy’s Post, What Makes A Christian

Comment from: blair
I’ll try not to just start talking for the sake of talking, but I thought Dave’s last point was the best one made. This posting reminds me of an Indigo Girls song “Least Complicated” where she says

“So long ago when we were taught,
For whatever kind of puzzle you got
You just stick the right formula in.
The solution for every fool.”

I may not be a doctrinally sound Christian, and probably not a Christian if you go by this list of right belief that decides the divine “yes” and allows us access to the disembodied heaven, but I see nothing in these nine statements of belief that have anything to do with grace, peacemaking, and the life of the church the three things, as I see it, that Christ came to exhort us to. (certainly you have said that we should be baptized and practice communion, but as part of the church is probably more of an afterthought than anything since they seem to be simply part of the larger list of personal beliefs).

We (and I would use we in two senses, we the entire human race and all things on earth meaning through Christ all and all things are redeemed and we meaning it is a grace that must be received and shared collectively if it is to have any relevance) are receivers of grace sent to proclaim peace, through the body life and politic of the church, to a world caught in judgement of each other. With lists like this though we pervert that story of peace born out of grace and insert ourselves into the role of divine judge and jury declaring that only those who fit within OUR definitions are allowed in.

We have found many ways of creatively declaring who is in and who is out, creeds, right “belief”, someones definition of sin based on the socio political leanings of the day, however, very rarely have we been able to be a people of peace and love in the face of our own desire to be God and judge, and unfortunately we have used the bible, spirituality, and the lust for power to excuse our failings in these areas.

Anyway, I am just disappointed to see us continue the use of lists of disembodied beliefs rather than a call to the story of Christianity and the practices therein.

12/23/05 @ 06:02

Good thoughts Blair, but I think there are some things to be said in response to your comment.

You complain that there is nothing in Andy’s post about the actions of Christians, such as the proclamation of grace and peace. I just want to point out that Andy was not trying to encapsulate the whole life of a Christian in one short post. Rather, he was making a list of beliefs that he thinks Christians should have and as such, one should not be surprised that items out side his scope are not on the list.

What other kinds of beliefs are there besides disembodied ones? Since there are not other kinds of beliefs, I have to assume until directed otherwise that you are attacking religious beliefs in general. I have to take issue with this. Beliefs are very powerful and in a certain percentage of occasions, very positive. It was not their zeal to help the poor that helped Christianity through their early trials and persecutions; instead it was their hope and their faith. Now, when faith becomes ossified in the time-frame, scientific understanding, and culture that it is first developed, it becomes dangerous. Such was the case with Galileo and is the case now with the Islamic Fundamentalists, and young-earth creationists, and to some extent, with the Religious Right, in my estimation.

We have found many ways of creatively declaring who is in and who is out, creeds, right “belief”, someone’s definition of sin based on the socio political leanings of the day, however, very rarely have we been able to be a people of peace and love in the face of our own desire to be God and judge, and unfortunately we have used the bible, spirituality, and the lust for power to excuse our failings in these areas.

Good point, but just as there is a difference between driving and driving unsafely, there is a difference between being a hyper-exclusionist and not having doctrinal integrity. We are pursuing truth and love. Just because one extreme is bad (Andy, I am not saying you are guilty of it above), that alone is not a case to migrate to the other extreme. With that said, I really do emphasize with that point. The hyper-exclusivity was a great failing of mine 7-8 years ago. About 4 years ago, I woke up to that tragedy and have tried to reevaluate it.

Truth with out love is folly and so too is love without truth.

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