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.