“All religions are basically the same.” (To these folks, I suggest reading Prothro’s God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter.)
“All denominations are basically the same.”
“It doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Many of us take theology seriously – not just as an intellectual exercise but as something that impacts the way we live. Do we base our theology on what we ourselves determine to be right and wrong, or do we live according to some sort of authority beyond ourselves and our personal opinion?
And can we be a spiritual community with those with whom we disagree?
At The Fellowship of Presbyterians meeting in Minneapolis August 24-26, there was much concern about orthodoxy. What are “the essential tenets” of orthodox Presbyterian theology? And does the fact that the PCUSA now officially ordains GBLT leaders require those who disagree to make a change in their denominational affiliation?
What’s not helpful: Assuming that anyone who believes that ordaining gays cannot possibly be orthodox. One of the organizing pastors suggested that we need “a firewall of orthodoxy” to separate those who rightly believe and those who do not. This makes me a bit uncomfortable.
One of the essential tenets of our faith is that God is sovereign. God is God and we are not. It troubles me when any person or group implies that they absolutely know the mind of God. One example:
I have a brother who does not believe in the ordination of women. He is one of the best, most faithful people I know but we disagree about this theological detail. We can both make sound Biblical reasoning for our positions, but we disagree. His church doesn’t ordain women. My church does.
He believes he’s right. I believe I’m right. One of us is wrong.
(Note: I could also say – with my postmodern hat on – that both of us are right but that’s fodder for another post.)
I believe that some gay Christians are called to serve the church in an official way. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ do not believe this. Both of us can make sound Biblical support for our beliefs. But one side is wrong. (Unless we are both right – again the postmodern answer.)
One lovely woman in my Fellowship Gathering Table Group – with whom I disagree – said that she would rather err on the side of righteousness and holiness. I said that I would rather err on the side of grace and inclusion. But both of us agreed that we could be wrong about our understanding of what God wants according to scripture in regards to ordaining GBLT believers.
I am not worried about the future of the church. My denomination or any denomination or no denomination. Seasons of church life come and go and God always wins. It’s a very exciting time to be part of the church. I say let’s make some changes and be generous with our words and property. And then move on and serve the values of the Reign of God.