Where Do The Church Walls Rise, Or Is That Even A Question?

My parents are in town visiting this week. Their arrival marks the first time they’ve met their sole grandchild. As such, I’m not able to do as much ’round here (I’m not able to take any days off work so I’m doing my regular 58 hour week in addition to being with them).

Maybe you figured it out by Monday’s post imploring you not to try rocks at the emerging church, but looking at Christianity as a whole, I fall on the more progressive side (if we are judging by intellectual beliefs, that is. But that’s a question worth exploring right there – why do we judge Christianity by its doctrine, as if that is the totality of the religion?) My spiritual rebirth path journey awakening, whatever is we call it these days, left me on, well, the left.

Meaning I take more progressive views – that God is restoring this creation (not merely replacing it with a totally new earth), the Bible is not infallible, the kingdom of God is not referring to the afterlife, and some other stuff I really don’t want to distract from today’s primary purpose. These stand in stark contrast to what is taught in “Bible Believing Churches.”

Admittedly I have trouble with the more conservative side of Christianity. This is largely due to personal experience – I feel so misled by the religion of my youth that I have very little trust in it anymore. I was burned 20 too many times. In many ways I’m still dealing with the faulty programming I received in the church I grew up in, though its been 7 years so I’ve been there with anything resembling regularity.

When Anne Rice famously denounced her association with the Christian religion (but not Jesus), I totally understood why she would make such a move. Her complaints echoed through my ear drums and mirrored my own displeasure.

So when I encounter that more right-wing side of Christianity, which can be categorized by shame and guilt based faith, strict rules governing conduct, disdain for various sinful groups of people, seeing the end times in half the news stories each night, I have a difficulty associating these people as brother and sister. I feel so disconnected from them to the point where it sometimes feels like we love different Gods. Our differences seem so radical, so competing, polar opposite, that I don’t know how we fit under the same umbrella label.

Anne Rice’s disassocation brought up the question of who is a brother or sister in Christ? Is Anne still one, even though she doesn’t claim to be apart of “Christianity? (presumably preferring the ‘I’m just a follower of Jesus’ description)? What about people who hold such beliefs that Jesus has saved all people?

The one that really gets me is what about Westboro Baptist Church? (For those who don’t know, Westboro is the “God hates fags” group that protests military funerals and announces all the people God despises). I mean we are all apart of a local church, which is apart of a larger, more ambiguous church. So where are the walls? Are there some who fall outside of it? Obviously the Westboro example is about as extreme as it gets, but there are plenty of Southern Baptist Bible Belt types who I think get it so wrong that I’m not sure if they’re apart of the brotherhood.

But maybe asking the where is the wall? question isn’t even worthwhile. I’m not sure Jesus would entertain much in this conversation. If I asked him that question in the gospel times he’d likely neglect to answer it at all and instead launch into a speech about loving people no matter who they are, and walls not only keep people out but keep us gated in. That’s how he handled questions like me, which may be rather silly.

Are there people who claim to be Christian who you don’t think are apart of the church? Because there are certainly plenty of Christians. Or is the even a use in pondering such a thing?

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5 Responses to Where Do The Church Walls Rise, Or Is That Even A Question?

  1. David says:

    I guess the first thing to do is say what a Christians is. And unfortunately only the Bible actually defines that.

    Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

    The problem with these verses is that some folks are intellectually convinced, and not persuaded in the heart. We are judged on faith, not belief.

    Then I suppose there is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

    I guess there are some that could do these things and not know God. Heck, a lot of Americans don’t really care for patience or self-control.

    Then there are these things: Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

    But some folks don’t think this is authentic Bible.

    Theology is basically spiritual theory. Music theory is the same. It is an attempt to explain a phenomenon – it in itself is nothing but conjecture.

    It appears that what is important to God is not the theology.

    Romans 2:15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.

    So who is your brother or sister in Christ? It is only those that have been saved by faith in Christ, and Christ alone. It is not everyone that claims to be a Christian.

    You keep trying to split this with left and right, and the line is faith or no faith. 🙂

  2. but even there faith isn’t cut and dry either – because lets be honest the faith thing is kind of hard to do – and we often take baby steps. Obviously its preferable to just jump right in, and maybe even the Bible prefers the instant conversion and certainly those are powerful – however some are just more hesitant. Especially after the mess the church has made.

  3. David says:

    Certainly there are many steps to the door of salvation, but once we are through it, we are in. I don’t think anyone disputes that. The problems come when the Bible conflicts with out own thoughts and feelings – that is when we need to read it and seek God ourselves. This is the place where there are many thoughts, ideas – even good ideas. God however; only has one theology that He goes by, not 234485843. God does not like mixture, and He isn’t going to compromise His holiness to meet the needs of any religious or political group.

  4. Angela says:

    I have to say it’s amazing how far right I started and how left I’ve ended up so far. Maybe one day I’ll waiver back towards the center, but I agree. Sometimes it feels like we cannot all be looking towards the same God. How could people of faith be so far apart from one another? How did it get like this?

  5. that is a fantastic question Angela – how can we be so far apart from each other? Is the Bible that difficult to interpret? Is it that ambigious? The people who say no are reading it a particular way and aren’t able to see how they read into each sentence an already arranged preset of ideas.s

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