Posts Tagged ‘Faith Alone’

The Challenge Over Fundamentalism

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Fundamentalism can come to infect any faith.  From a recent book….

Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, defines fundamentalism “as the attempt to impose a single truth on a plural world.” In Karen Armstrong’s bestselling book, “The Battle for God,” she defines fundamentalism as “militant piety” with “no time for democracy, pluralism, religious tolerance, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state.”

And therein lies a deep danger imbedded in fundamentalism.  That type of fundamentalist faith, that “militant piety”, can come to destroy the very thing it seeks to promote.

Faith in order to grow, paradoxically, takes faith.  It takes a faith in the form of trusting one another, a movement away from iron-clad certainty, a wiling openness to many perspectives, a faith that God speaks not in one voice but in one song with many parts. 

Our role?  To sing our part well.  And to listen.

Lord God Savior Jesus Christ? So What.

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The core of Christian New Church theology is that the Lord God Savior Jesus Christ reigns.  This statement of faith is far more than just a dreary theological construct.  Within it lies a remarkable paradigm – that knowing God is knowing the Man, Jesus.  That walking the path of God is walking the path of Jesus.

Historical Christianity unfortunately warped this message into one of denominational exclusivity – a “club” as it were in which the world is readily cleaved between the saved and dammed.

That was NEVER Jesus’ message.  His message was one of looking out in love, a love powerful enough to hold all experience, including His own unjust execution, without lapsing into anger, hatred or revenge.  It was a love that enabled salvation ranging far beyond belief, far beyond any claims of exclusivity – and thus the consistent warnings about the demonic influence of salvation via faith alone.  Many of those whom Jesus “saved” were far from fitting into any belief paradigm we hold today and of which much of modern Christianity lays claim.

As goes Jesus, so goes God.

The New Church then is about reclaiming that core truth not from the pulpit alone but most importantly within life.  What else is a life of useful service, of loving kindness, of engagement if it is not a life of relationship growing from consequential faith? The relationship to God then is about the relationship with the other in circles that spiral outward ever-larger environs.

God of course is there all along – the omnipresent Father.  We are not separate from Him though we may spend a great part of lives asleep to that most core of connections.  We awaken to it at much the same pace that we awaken to one another, to the connection that is life.  Imagine the disciples awakening to the Divinity of Jesus – to a God who sought to arrive not as the Son of God – the same term used for the Roman Emperor – but as the Son of Humanity – our son.    If God’s highest desire was sacred worship, He would have chosen a far different vehicle than the person of Jesus, a Man who personified relationship, meaning, and connection and who eschewed the sanctimonious, ceremonial puffery of the Pharisees.

The “So What” is pretty big.

Is it possble to live an “unsurrendered” life as a Christian?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

The short answer – no.

A remarkable piece of Christianity is the concept that we must surrender our lives up. It is a surrendering however to God in a way that helps us to uncover our true selves.

It is so easy though to play with faith. We live in a culture that worships the individual. And of course, that is a source of strength in many instances – loosing ourselves to a “system” is Orwellian.

But there are limits. As Tutu said, thankfully there really is not a “self-made man.” We are where we are by the grace of others and the grace of God. None of us got here “alone.”

A hope – that Christianity rediscovers its heart. We have played such games with faith. Games that include the view of a Church as a club, as a “golden ticket.”

Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door to protest the Pope’s use of indulgences. Emanuel Swedenborg, the New Church’s Martin Luther, figuratively nailed progressive Christian principles to the door of the Protestant Church to protest the concept of salvation by faith alone. Faith needs trust, compassion, kindness, service to be real. It is far more than belief.

Recapturing the heart requires surrender.