Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Close to the Edge of Christianity

How far afield can one live and still be considered a Christian? How close to the church's standards of whatever denomination you find yourself a part of do you have to adhere to and still feel part of the inner group? Each person has to answer that for themselves. Of course, sometimes what you feel is appropriate may not be in tune with what most of your church group agrees with.

I've visited churches or spoken with members off-site who feel that the New Age movement is acceptable to Christians of a specific faith. Others feel that believing devoutly in God can be held side-by-side with a strong belief that humanity is a product of evolution. Still others believe that they can live with someone out-of-wedlock and still find it all right to beCheck Spelling active in their local church group.

I am in no way making any value judgments on any of the cases I cite here, but I wonder just how close to the edge of Christianity one can go and still enjoy an authentic relationship with Christ and with other Christians?

Of course, if ever one feels that one is no longer a part of or accepted by a certain group, there are other groups to choose from. The problem arises when one is convinced that there is only one group that gives one true satisfaction when approaching God or Christ. In that case one can try other congregations within the same banner church that one just has to hold onto.

Through the years I have encountered--either in print or through social contacts--people who dabbled in some unusual areas while still considering themselves Christians. Some of these are now considered less shocking than they may have been years earlier. No vital organism, Christian communities included, stays static for very long. If it does it risks experiencing a gradual death.

How dynamic is your church or how alive is your Christian experience? What could you do without going over the edge to ensure that your Christian experience or group-involvement is constantly progressing for the better?

Holy Spirit Does It All

In a recent http://www.spectrummagazine.org/ post, Gift of Prophecy in Israel and the Church I posted the following:

"'. . . forgetting that their salvation ultimately depends on God’s Spirit at work throughout the church and the world.'

Thank you for your meditation and especially for this quoted thought. We can try to do this or that: pray, read the bible, share our faith, and serve those in need. How easy though, it is to make these experiences less than well-intentioned. Sometimes we think that we're buying our salvation by engaging in these life-giving activities.

Like you say in the above-quoted thought, it is the Spirit who is ultimately responsible and brings about every phase of our salvation. We need to learn to recognize his presence and marvel at his supernatural ministry in our lives."

Posted by: Raul Batista (not verified) 21 March 2009 at 12:07

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Adventist Christ?

Christ belongs to everyone who accepts him as his personal savior. What I'm referring to is, perhaps, the version of Christ that the Adventists conceptualize. It's safe to assume that the painting on the cover of Steps to Christ was done by an Adventist artist in the tradition of Harry Harrison and others. If not, it is a Christ that the publishers of this seminal classic feel comfortable with.

I'm also thinking about the lifestyle that Adventists live, e.g., healthy, charitable, Sabbath-oriented, that colors the version of Christ that Adventists believe in.

Some other Christians might feel comfortable inviting Christ to a wedding with dancing or drinking. Others might feel very comfortable inviting Christ to the movies or the theater to see a play with them about modern concerns. Other Christians might feel comfortable inviting Christ to a major casino with Las Vegas type shows. The list goes on and on.

The Adventist Christ tends to be a very strait-laced one. Ellen White says that Christ never joked around or was flippant at any time. Of course, if he saw something naturally humorous, the Adventist Christ could very well chuckle, but not engage in uproarious laughter. What could be so funny that would make the King of Kings laugh non-stop for several minutes? Nothing I'm afraid. Divine humor, if it exists, is very seldom in play.

Have Adventists remade Christ in their own image for better or for worst? Let's pray that we don't change him more than is necessary. Let's pray that we don't envision Christ in ways that make him less desirable to those just learning about him.

I prefer to think of a Christ that is forever smiling and sitting by my side as I live, and breathe, and, yes, laugh.