Thank you for all the feedback on A Conversation with The Church. Some of The Church strongly disagreed with my assessment, while others agreed and gave thanks for putting words to their feelings and thoughts. Remember, I’ve said for many years that, whether or not you agree with me is not my concern. I don’t care if we agree or not, I only care that we are thinking! I care only for the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of our belief systems. What follows is some debate with you, The Church, that has transpired since I published the Conversation.
I Don’t Care if You Agree with Me or Not
A lot of folks simply commented, “I agree” or “I disagree” with you. Thank you for the critique or support, but neither comment is beneficial to any kind of conversation. I ask, “Why?” Why do you agree or disagree? To simply say, “I disagree,” makes this an argument between us; which of us is right and/or wrong. I don’t care about that. I care about a conversation of competing thoughts and beliefs that furthers the larger conversation that the whole church has been having for 2000 years.
Likewise, to only say, “I agree,” makes this an ‘US vs. THEM’ conversation. I don’t care about that. We do not need an echo chamber where all we hear are our own words clanging around inside our heads. Your experience, your history, your thoughts on where we happen to agree are very important to the ongoing conversation because others probably feel or think like you do, but have been conditioned to believe that they are “wrong.”
“Authorized” By Whom?
Many question my “salvation” because I first questioned “the acceptance” of Jesus Christ or the “saved” aspect of the mainstream Christian religion. My response is that you are completely missing my point. I am questioning the language that The Church utilizes, as if “conversion” is to a culture that has a specific necessary language. Secondly, in the Conversation, because it was based on Socratic thought (the style and form of Socrates) my questioning of your terminology is a means for you to explain the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of your doctrine; your rehearsed and memorized responses. If you are saying something because I said it (or some other big mouth), then you are following me (or them) and not Christ. And finally, I use different terminology, a different language, because of the disconnected segments of The Church with which I deal. I am expressing that your doctrine, dogma, and platitudes are not axiomatic (they’re not universal in The Church) and are often times alienating and damaging.
(The Action of) Faith vs (The Policy and Procedure of) Religion
God is moving throughout God’s entire creation. Please don’t tell me that there are certain catch-phrases and specific words that are central and necessary to God’s rescuing act. These claims and demands of western civilization are NOT “The Good News”; they are NOT the means by which God heals all and/or everyone. God’s grace (the work of the Resurrected Christ) works in individuals as is necessary to the individual. If that offends The Church, it is The Church that must make adjustments; not God. THIS is a major difference between Religion and Faith. Religion is built on its own bureaucracy of policy (the rules to how we do things), where Faith is a work within the things themselves (the fact that we do things).
The “Method” to My Madness
Some folks asked (because POLICY demands that they ask), “Do you believe in Universal Salvation?” Some others made a statement while attempting to ask the question: “You don’t believe in Universal Salvation, do you?” The latter is only a question because “do you?” was added to a judgmental statement. My response is very simple: Your argument, here, is with the Scriptures; the texts I use to support my argument. I am using the same “authority” as you, without the POLICY that religion demands; I am using the words of the Apostle Paul, strictly, and not the baggage of “accepted interpretations” (doctrine).
Paul plainly and clearly states that, “In Adam, ALL have died. Likewise, in Christ ALL will BE MADE alive” (emphasis mine). Now, I don’t intend on turning this debate into a lesson in Hermeneutics (how we interpret things based on original language, context, etc). Thus, it is YOU who must deal honestly with the text, the context of this text, and the intent of the text based on the Greek with which it was written. Your problem is not with me. It is based in and on your own Bible, and your inherent interpretations that attempt to change the meaning of Paul’s words.
Theologically, I assume the position of Universal Atonement. I am a Methodist (if a United one, is yet to be seen). But I am steeply trained in Calvinism, too. There is no Methodism without John Wesley arguing against Calvinism. Likewise, there is no Calvinism if John Calvin was not arguing against Catholicism. But I digress…
My Calvinism (within my “Method”) demands that God in Christ is in control of God’s creation; that God’s worldview is complete, and that Christ is working out that worldview to complete creation’s realignment with that worldview. Likewise, I believe that The Cross of Christ is axiomatic (a universal for ALL creation); it is the means of healing for ALL creation. Creation’s role in this Act of God is not my concern. Whether or not creation must “believe” or otherwise “accept” these terms is not a concern for me.
The Vision (As I Understand It)
What I’m saying is this: My job, my part in the conversation, is to express what I believe to be God’s worldview (The Vision).
- I DO NOT understand “Good News” to include God as punitive (which, by definition, is bad news for the recipient).
- I understand The Christ Event (The Cross of Christ) as Permissive, rather than Punitive. This has been the thinking of the Eastern Church for many centuries. The Western Church imagines an angry, demanding, Punitive (punishing) God.
- I believe that Christ and His Cross is THE healing act of a loving God (Permissive).
- I DO NOT believe that The Crucifixion was a punishing action by a displeased deity (Punitive).
- I believe that if God is still angry and must be appeased AFTER The Christ Event, then all logic falls to the ground because, obviously, God is dependent on us, making us more powerful than God (by definition). If this view is accurate, then Christ is/was NOT enough, and there is more that we must do.
- I believe there is no exception to The Christ Event; whether or not we are “good enough” is not a reasonable debate. God’s worldview is based on who God is, and not on who we are or not.
- I believe that God IS NOT judging human beings (“Heaven or Hell”), but that “Judgment” is anything that is NOT God’s worldview.
- I believe that God healed the rift between creation and God’s Self at The Christ Event.
- I believe that God’s issue is NOT with humans, but with counterfeit worldviews that ‘miss and otherwise move the mark of God’s intended worldview’ (“Sin”).
- I believe we ALL have a responsibility to express – to live-out – God’s worldview among the myriads of counterfeit worldviews available to humanity (“Church”).
- …Whatever that looks like!
Don’t worry, I’ve got more to say concerning this Conversation!