Tuesday, July 27, 2010
In Other Words
I've often observed that the most fundamental division between Christian churches (and within each individual congregation, and within each individual in the congregation) is the conflict between love and fear. Does serving Christ mean welcoming people, or excluding them? (And make no mistake: progressives can be as exclusionary as anyone else. The challenge is how to be tolerant of those we perceive as intolerant.)
Often, although not always, you can figure out which side any given party falls on by listening to their Scripture quotations. The love contingent tends to quote Jesus; the fear contingent tends to quote Paul. Again, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but in my experience -- I can't speak for anyone else! -- it can be a useful clue.
Thinking about my last post, I realized that another split within Christianity is how we use the word "bring." Are we "bringing people to Christ" within the church and insisting that they honor only him, or are we bringing Christ to other people, out in the world, and serving them whether they recognize him or not?
Yeah, I know: this is too simplistic -- in many places it really is both/and, or some other arrangement entirely -- and I don't for a minute claim to know where that Episcopal church in Flagstaff falls on the issue. It just struck me as being one of the powerful tensions running through the tradition.
Enough philosophizing. Must swim now!