Denominations of all sorts face “worship wars”, wars that often can tend towards a Liberal vs. Conservative breakdown. The Liberal camp calls for more individuality and freedom of expression. The Conservative camp calls for closer adherence to the historical traditions of a given faith. The “battlefield” most often is the Sunday service. How do we find our way through?
One possible element to consider is that Jesus calls us neither towards a “Liberal” or “Conservative” perspective. What He calls us to is a Radical perspective. The word “radical” is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. What the word radical actually means is to go to the root. Radical = Root.
What is the root? What is that call? The root of Christianity is simple to describe yet a difficult world to live into. One element – Jesus clearly calls on us to “loose our life.” For me, that struggle entails getting clarity around the parts of my life that must “die.” The easiest way, personally, to see what those areas are is to reach out in service to others. As soon as I reach out, I can count on numerous bits of “noise” trying to force me back into my false/ lower self that wants nothing to do with the discomfort associated with a stretch to reach out beyond self. And yet, if I am to be a Christian New Church “Radical”, reach I must.
In the Swedenborgian tradition, the concept of “as of self” is ever so helpful. Restated, by reaching out as if it were all up to us AND at the same time knowing all is a gift from God, we experience the transforming power of Christian love in action – agape love.
Such lines of thinking, as is obvious, simply don’t break down neatly into a “Liberal” and “Conservative” typology. When we go to the “root”, becoming Christian radicals, our path lies well outside these two constructions.
Amazing how Christianity continually points us to a “Third Way!”