I will assume that anyone reading this letter is interested in finding the answer to this basic question:
How, when, and to what degree should we, as Christians, accept the theologies of other Christian groups (and other religions)?
First and foremost, I should say that I believe ‘acceptance’ and ‘tolerance’ to be the chief forms of love that are the mark of true followers of the Son of God. But what have we, as Christians, focused on in our religion, what do we often put emphasis on? Every Church has people, leaders, and proper pride in their groups’ histories that set them as special. But these things are more fit as concerns of Men, not the Church of the Messiah.
As people Set Apart for the Creator, please, let’s be concerned with the traits of Charity, Meekness, and Good-will towards men to define us. In Luke 22.25-26, our Savior told that his disciples should be recognized by our service. The business of true religion is not pomp, nor ceremony, nor ecclesiastical regulations. Nor should God’s children be known as the people who dominate and force others to be righteous. Such behavior stains our God’s good reputation (Romans 2:24). For true faith, anyone who chooses to stand under the banner of the LORD must make war upon his OWN lusts and vices.
Any man or woman who claims to serve the God of Abraham, yet behaves in rebellion to Him, prays in vain. In Luke 22.32, our Lord told Peter that “…once you have turned back in repentance, strengthen your brothers!” Anyone who wishes to inspire Faith in their neighbor should sincerely and eagerly apply themselves to the works of charity, not out of duty, obligation, vanity, or because he or she is forced to, but out of genuine love.
Having said this, I appeal to the conscience of those who, in the name of Religion, persecute, torture, destroy, and dominate others to be “in one accord” with the Church. These men and women may believe that these are the actions of a kind friend, but this is wrong. These are not the acts of friends, but of fiery Zealots bent on ‘correcting’ and ‘fixing’ what they see as transgressions against the doctrines of God. These men and women claim to love their brothers’ and sisters’ souls while punishing their bodies and lives. This may make people good little Christians, but it does not secure salvation.
Why is it that this type of person will obsess over every little violation of ceremony, but will often ignore great vicious or wicked acts within their Church to the scale described in Romans 1? Why is unrighteous behavior tolerated while violations of doctrine are persecuted? Where are our priorities?
Our focus has become on self and group identities.
In this article, I have focused on the question of priority: What should we, as Christians, focus our God given energies on and what, in reality, do we? Next time, I will discuss the question of identity and divisions in Christendom in more detail.