Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Things We Can Learn from Other Faith Traditions

Learning from Catholics: The value of liturgy. The joy of tradition
I was raised Catholic, but I never really connected to it. Going back into a Catholic church later in life, I discovered a great joy in the reciting of the truths of the scriptures.  It can be Spirit-filled, is what I learned when reconnecting with it later in life. Additionally, the beauty of the physical is at work in the ornate chapels and basilicas of the Catholic faith.  The reciting of the truths of the Christian faith bring a fresh theological depth to an increasingly luke-warm, shallow Christianity of today based on simplistic Christian rock choruses that tend to glorify love more so than the God who is both love and holy. The repetition of liturgy can help guide us toward a more theologically deep and meaningful practice of our faith. 

Learning from Lutherans: The total sufficiency of Christ
Christ is everything.  Everything is about Christ. Jesus is the savior. He's the one who washes away our sins.  Of the millions of sins on record, there is not even one I can scrub away on my own.  I could scrub all day.  I could scrub and repent and do good deeds, all day long.  But I can't wash away sin.  Not even one.  Only Jesus can do that.  Jesus is the reason.  Jesus is the hope.  Jesus is the atonement for sin. Jesus is sufficient.  Thank you Luther, for that.

Learning from Calvinists: The utterly highest regard for scripture
How much do we trust the word of God?  In my experience, our regard for the word of God is so utterly low, it's absolutely appalling. We turn up our nose at scriptures we dislike. We skip over the difficult scriptures, and emphasize the lovey-dovey ones. We white-wash and blot out the scriptures about hell and judgment.  We second guess Paul, John, and even Jesus. It's sad. 

Calvinists I disagree with on a great deal, and I believe their "once saved always saved" doctrine to be no less than a doctrine of hell itself, but I'll give them this, they have the highest regard for the word of God.  Sadly, in my tradition they see it as "sufficient for Christian faith and practice." What a sad, limiting refrain.  The word of God describes all of reality.  It's perfect, glorious, beautiful, a depiction of the truth about all of reality, not just matters directly related to faith and practice.  Inerrancy shows the highest regard for the word of God.  If only we loved it this much, and had such a high regard for it.  

Learning from liberal Christianity: The power of God's love
If there's anyone I disagree with even more than calvinists, it's these folks.  But they have a beautiful view of the love of God.  They see the love of God in a way that pushes it further than we imagine.  They see that God is love.  This is true. While I would define biblical love differently than they would, they certainly call me toward greater love and compassion.  We do need more love, more mercy, and more compassion. It goes further than we realize. 

Learning from Pentecostals: Experiencing God
For a long time I had an over-abundance of orthodoxy.  I had a great deal of head knowledge, that's how I thought of Christianity. I've come to realize that I can experience God. It's more than a relationship, it's a romance, a marriage. There's no word for it.  But it's joy.  It's love, a special love, between creator and creation. We ought to have a Pentecostal faith, a faith that believes and expects more from God than we do now.  We ought to expect the supernatural from God.  God is still at work. And the heights of connection with him are still to be found and explored, if we'll dive deeper and further, and believe God on His word. It's a dangerous level of experience, which can make us feel uncomfortable, but we often say "it's about a relationship" and then we don't really live that out.  It is a deep, experiential relationship and God pours into that relationship if we'll just dig deeper and stay longer with Him. 

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  2. The Church of Laodicea & The Church of America
  3. How Holiness Theology Transformed My Understanding of Christianity
  4. Fasting and Prayer: Why You Should Fast Twice a Week
  5. An Investigation of the Biblical Concept of Hell
  6. Why Do I Exist? A Quick Look at the Human Life
  7. What is the equation that shows us how to inherit Eternal Life
  8. How to Repent of all Sins in your Christian Life
  9. God will Uphold His Army: Standing on the Truth
  10. To Those Who Overcome: How to Be Free from all Sin