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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Theology  > Lets get radical about Christian unity

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  #1  
Old 09-28-2010, 09:45 PM
CharlesFivaz's Avatar
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Default Lets get radical about Christian unity

I have read some of the posts on this site and every now and again I see a pattern that disturbs me. This is a site that promotes Christian unity. And unity does not mean conformity. Unity does not mean we all must follow the same rituals (which are means to communing with God) or the same interpretation of quoted Bible passages. Unity does not mean we are all to conform to the same traditions (the idiosyncrasies and ways of communing that we inherited from Roman, Greek, German, Baptist, English, Russian, Apostolic, American, Charismatic and Protestant forebears.

What we are on about here, I thought, was finding unity in diversity. Just look at God’s creation – its very nature is diversity. The orchid does not praise God in the same way as a rose; the lion and the dog likewise. Yet they all perform together, like an orchestra, each praising their Cosmic Lover in unique ways that come together in one grand symphony.

We go on arguing about who is right or wrong in interpreting Holy Scripture this way or that, as if our very identity depended on it. The truth is our identity is found in the person of Jesus. He is the One who calls us to the various apostolates, the various ways of living out His truth. Yes, there is a VARIETY of ways. Read 1 Corr 12:27 – 13:10 (this is such a brilliant passage!) And Paul reminds us that the most excellent way over all the others is love. Love is not judgemental – it is accepting of the other with a profound respect for difference.

I am just so wary of anyone who claims we can only come to God in a particular way – e.g. via scripture alone, via Eucharistic belief in Transubstantiation, via intercession to Mary and the saints in heaven, via adult baptism only, and on and on. (I am in the Roman Catholic tradition, by the way, and I accept all these points of difference as valid, but not exclusive).

What I would like to hear from all who have sincerely come to this Unity forum in order to fellowship with the whole orchestra (not just the woodwinds or the percussionists) is this:

What do you think are the essentials that identify us as Christians – as people communing with God in Christ?

Let’s work at naming the things that ought to be common to all denominations. Can you help me do that, because I don’t know clearly what they are?

Things that come to mind are: belief in the Trinity, belief that Jesus is my personal Lord and saviour, having a personal and prayerful relationship with God, and loving my neighbour. Can you help me name them all, or put some flesh to them, because we so need to focus on these as a priority? The differences, I understand, can and should be discussed, but they are not essential to salvation.

This is not easy, I know, because there are those who will say belief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread is essential to salvation. But is it really?

Jesus was a radical – he cut through all those traditions (without disrespecting them, even endorsing them). He cut to the heart of religion. “Neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father … true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-)

Let’s cut through the mountains and the city churches to reveal the heart of our Christian faith. Help me identify the nature of this heart. Your posts will be welcomed.
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  #2  
Old 09-29-2010, 12:46 AM
Gentlewind
 
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Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

What a great post!

Other things that should be common to us all? To remain teachable, to have a seeker's heart, to have a deep and abiding love of God, to see nature as God's creation and a means of revealing Himself . . .

By the way, the RCC doesn't teach that belief in the real presence is essential to salvation, but it IS essential to being a Catholic. (to my understanding of things)

Great post and hope to see more from you!
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  #3  
Old 09-29-2010, 09:26 AM
Josiah
 
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Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

.


NEWBIE here.......

But as I understand it (and I ain't saying that's saying much), this site is about seeking a true unity in doctrine. In other words, doctrinal agreement.

It seems to reject three things:
1. Pure minimalism (looking for the common denominators)
2. Pretense (we'll SAY we agree when we don't)
3. Mr. Rogerism or Kumbyahism (as called at some sites, lol) - just evading the whole issue of truth and disagreement with a hug and a song.

My OWN personal opinion is that while this is NOBLE (and I'm HERE exclusively because I give it some worth), it is not the thing that drives ME. While I'm a horrible theology junkie and eat this stuff for lunch, I don't take it ALL that seriously because I don't take ME or my brain all that seriously. I LOVE theology, I'm absolutely fasinated by it, but I see it as OUR stuff, OUR feeble attempts to wrap our puny brains about the glories of what God has placed in our hearts, our inadequate attempts to articulate into HUMAN words and thoughts the things of God. It's BOUND to fail. I don't think that means we all throw in the towel but I think it does mean we see it for what it is: OUR limited attempts to cognatively understand the things of God.


IMHO, we ARE united in faith - the one true faith that is in Christ as our Savior. As a result of this, we ARE full, unseparated, fully equal brothers and sisters in Christ and fully members of His Body, His Church which is one, holy and catholic - the communion of saints, the family of all believers. THAT'S the unity I celebrate and embrace. And yeah, it bugs me a bit when fellow believers TRY to undermine and deny that reality and divide the family. This unity, however, is spiritual and not didactic, it's the result exclusively of what GOD has done and we are merely passive receivers (as it tends to be with families). And we SHOULD be one in love and care. Jesus left us with little specifically for these centuries between His Advents - but chief among them is: "Love one another as I first loved you" We're doing a LOUSY job at that. I lament the individualism, pride and institutionalism that invaded Christianity early on (I'm pretty sure the Lord of the church does, too), but what is is and I doubt that's going to change (in my lifetime anyway). But perhaps we can advance some sense of community, humility and accountability - not simply in a cognative sense but especially in our hearts and lives and how we relate to each other. Jesus said the world would know we are Christians not by OUR attempts to articulate dogma, not by our institutions, not by our money or numbers, not by our hate toward each other but by our love.


One step at a time. And may it begin with me.



Pax


- Josiah






.

Last edited by Josiah : 09-29-2010 at 09:29 AM.
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  #4  
Old 09-29-2010, 09:37 AM
thelowlyfisherman's Avatar
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Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

1 Chorinthians 12
For the body is not one member, but many.


15If the foot shall say, "Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?


16And if the ear shall say, "Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?


17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?


18But now hath God set the members, every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased Him.


19And if they were all one member, where would be the body?


20But now there are many members, yet but one body.


21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, "I have no need of thee"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
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  #5  
Old 09-29-2010, 01:12 PM
Gentlewind
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

Josiah,

Loved this paragraph:

Quote:
My OWN personal opinion is that while this is NOBLE (and I'm HERE exclusively because I give it some worth), it is not the thing that drives ME. While I'm a horrible theology junkie and eat this stuff for lunch, I don't take it ALL that seriously because I don't take ME or my brain all that seriously. I LOVE theology, I'm absolutely fasinated by it, but I see it as OUR stuff, OUR feeble attempts to wrap our puny brains about the glories of what God has placed in our hearts, our inadequate attempts to articulate into HUMAN words and thoughts the things of God. It's BOUND to fail. I don't think that means we all throw in the towel but I think it does mean we see it for what it is: OUR limited attempts to cognatively understand the things of God.
Also love your name. If ever I had had a son, I would've named him "Josiah."
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  #6  
Old 09-29-2010, 01:31 PM
Josiah
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentlewind View Post


Josiah,

Loved this paragraph: My OWN personal opinion is that while this is NOBLE (and I'm HERE exclusively because I give it some worth), it is not the thing that drives ME. While I'm a horrible theology junkie and eat this stuff for lunch, I don't take it ALL that seriously because I don't take ME or my brain all that seriously. I LOVE theology, I'm absolutely fasinated by it, but I see it as OUR stuff, OUR feeble attempts to wrap our puny brains about the glories of what God has placed in our hearts, our inadequate attempts to articulate into HUMAN words and thoughts the things of God. It's BOUND to fail. I don't think that means we all throw in the towel but I think it does mean we see it for what it is: OUR limited attempts to cognatively understand the things of God.

Also love your name. If ever I had had a son, I would've named him "Josiah."

Thanks!!!!


On the name, yeah - biblical boys names were popular when I was born (I'm 22); I've actually known 3 or 4 Josiahs, all my age or maybe a bit younger. Except for the fact that it sometimes gets shorted to "Joe" (that's short for JOSEPH, not JOSIAH) and some don't know how to pronounce it, I like it. As a kid, I OFTEN read about King Josiah in the Bible. I guess he's kind of a hero to me....

Again, thanks for reading my humble post and for taking the time to affirm something; that means a lot to me.


Blessings!


- Josiah





.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2010, 04:59 PM
SeraphimH
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

I agree with Josiah on doctrinal agreement. Christ is a both God and man, so He has an identity. He's not an Ideal. He's as real as the earth beneath your feet for example. There are definitive truths to what the earth beneath your feet is. It's composition, its physics, temperature, curvature, etc. They are clearly defined, and no one debates what they are. It's an objective truth, a doctrine. So why do people immediately relegate Christ to subjective opinion when they try to define Him, quoting scripture out of context outside the Tradition it was written for in the first place? Is He not a real person all of a sudden? How did Christ suddenly become relative opinion instead of objective Truth in the West?

There is no such thing as "unity in diversity". The phrase itself is a paradox. Certainly we can begin the daunting task of finding our common denominators and work from there, but stating that we are all "one in our hearts" is plainly sticking your head in the sand.
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2010, 05:07 PM
Gentlewind
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

^ Should we all be Orthodox, then?

Do you relate to all people the same?

Then why should Christ? He knows how to reach each one of us.

So, also, Satan knows how best to attack each one of us.

Faith is a very individual thing.

We will never all agree on Doctrine. And, there just might be a very good reason for this . . . Think about it.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2010, 06:39 PM
Mark's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3,713
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesFivaz View Post
I have read some of the posts on this site and every now and again I see a pattern that disturbs me. This is a site that promotes Christian unity. And unity does not mean conformity. Unity does not mean we all must follow the same rituals (which are means to communing with God) or the same interpretation of quoted Bible passages. Unity does not mean we are all to conform to the same traditions (the idiosyncrasies and ways of communing that we inherited from Roman, Greek, German, Baptist, English, Russian, Apostolic, American, Charismatic and Protestant forebears.

What we are on about here, I thought, was finding unity in diversity. Just look at God’s creation – its very nature is diversity. The orchid does not praise God in the same way as a rose; the lion and the dog likewise. Yet they all perform together, like an orchestra, each praising their Cosmic Lover in unique ways that come together in one grand symphony.

We go on arguing about who is right or wrong in interpreting Holy Scripture this way or that, as if our very identity depended on it. The truth is our identity is found in the person of Jesus. He is the One who calls us to the various apostolates, the various ways of living out His truth. Yes, there is a VARIETY of ways. Read 1 Corr 12:27 – 13:10 (this is such a brilliant passage!) And Paul reminds us that the most excellent way over all the others is love. Love is not judgemental – it is accepting of the other with a profound respect for difference.

I am just so wary of anyone who claims we can only come to God in a particular way – e.g. via scripture alone, via Eucharistic belief in Transubstantiation, via intercession to Mary and the saints in heaven, via adult baptism only, and on and on. (I am in the Roman Catholic tradition, by the way, and I accept all these points of difference as valid, but not exclusive).

What I would like to hear from all who have sincerely come to this Unity forum in order to fellowship with the whole orchestra (not just the woodwinds or the percussionists) is this:

What do you think are the essentials that identify us as Christians – as people communing with God in Christ?

Let’s work at naming the things that ought to be common to all denominations. Can you help me do that, because I don’t know clearly what they are?

Things that come to mind are: belief in the Trinity, belief that Jesus is my personal Lord and saviour, having a personal and prayerful relationship with God, and loving my neighbour. Can you help me name them all, or put some flesh to them, because we so need to focus on these as a priority? The differences, I understand, can and should be discussed, but they are not essential to salvation.

This is not easy, I know, because there are those who will say belief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread is essential to salvation. But is it really?

Jesus was a radical – he cut through all those traditions (without disrespecting them, even endorsing them). He cut to the heart of religion. “Neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father … true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-)

Let’s cut through the mountains and the city churches to reveal the heart of our Christian faith. Help me identify the nature of this heart. Your posts will be welcomed.
Great post! One way to find unity is by combating evil - look how America united after 911, for example. Instead of focusing solely on doctrine unity, perhaps we can work together toward common goals. Realistically, we could use this community to raise money for various charitable purposes that we all agree on (we could sponsor a child, for example). Other ideas would include speaking out against evils in society (porn, abortion, gay marriage, etc)... broadcasting forum meetings, etc.

I haven't really thought much about these things but it's great to get input and ideas.....
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2010, 06:49 PM
SeraphimH
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Lets get radical about Christian unity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentlewind View Post
^ Should we all be Orthodox, then?
That would be wonderful! We wouldn't be reading a thread on Christian unity if that were the case. Everyone coming home to the ancient Faith of the Church of Christ, the Apostles, and 20 centuries of the faithful would certainly be a joyous occasion indeed! (I like to think big.)

Quote:
Do you relate to all people the same?

Then why should Christ? He knows how to reach each one of us.
Christ relates to everyone the same, with perfect love. He is love incarnate! How could He relate to each of us differently? Love some less than others? God forbid!

Our goal as Christians is to relate to all people the same, with unconditional love, just as Christ does. Christ made us according to His image. We should strive to be one with Him in perfect love. I am obviously not perfect and have a looong way to go in loving perfectly, including loving my enemies. Pray for me!

We as Orthodox, have very detailed theology on how Christ saves us in the Church, but no theology on how He saves those outside the Church. We know where He is, but not where He isn't. Who am I to judge you or your salvation? That's not my place! Yet, I along with 350 million other Orthodox living (and countless departed) do know that the fullness of the faith resides with us. Which is greater, part of the faith, or the whole thing? Have you read anything by an Orthodox author or considered looking into it, or have you ignored it perhaps because I'm a poor example of a Christian? Maybe you should look into it before discounting it. Can't hurt to try! If it's me, then I ask your forgiveness (but look anyway!)

Quote:
So, also, Satan knows how best to attack each one of us.
The Church has 2000 years of experience in handling this. It would be a fools errand to counterattack without her guidance for me. Read some patristic works sometime. They're so detailed, instructive, so beautiful! Full of faith, hope and undying love. What else would I ask for than 20 centuries of the Holy Spirit filled saintly advice?

Quote:
Faith is a very individual thing.
It is not God's intent that we be individuals. We are defined by our relationships. We are truly communal beings, as God intended. He is a relationship of Persons, and so are we. We cannot be saved as individuals because we would fail to do His commandments, and it's conceited to think a personal, individual faith is better than the faith of a community, with the help of family and friends.

Of course, if you mean individual faith as in "we have our personal obstacles that require a personal touch" then even then it's always better to never go it alone. Orthodoxy is pretty frustrating to explain, because it's all about a living experience.

Quote:
We will never all agree on Doctrine. And, there just might be a very good reason for this . . . Think about it.
I have thought about, read about, and prayed about it for 15 years now. Lamentably, it's spiritual conceit from those who intentionally try to "have it their way" in total ignorance to the truth, lack of concern, and the relativistic approach to all things in modernity that are the obstacles to unity. Truth has been deemed relative, and faith is now an opinion. It's a sad state of affairs.

I want unity more than anything, but not at the cost of the truth. Otherwise it's not really unity...think about that too.
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