Who is right? Thats the question religion in general tries to answer. Whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or some other religion, the ultimate question = veritas?
Pilate asked that question of Jesus, and man has been asking that question since the beginning. Both religion and philosophy has tried to answer the question, what is truth, what is real. Even when narrowed down to one specific religion – i.e. Christianity – there are more questions then answers. Even in this blog, where Pre-destination and Purgatory have been questioned, no “true” truth has been discovered, for every answer is biased, or based upon personal beliefs or feelings… no offense of course!
Think of Christianity:
Jesus, born, lived, died, rose again –
Acts, the Chursh is born, the Community is established, the Sacraments are consumated by the Apostles
Seven Ecumenical Councils, Christology established, the Apostles and Nicene Creed established, the Chalcedon variation.
1054, East and West split – political and religious
16th Century, Protestant Reformation/Rebellion
18/19th Centuries, Great Awakening I & II, the Rapture
20th Century, Pentecostalism, Charismatic Movement, Liberation Theology, Continuing Movement, Convergence Movement
21st Century… who knows!
In all of this, you have splits, mergers, miracles, heresies, etc. But what is truth? Roman Catholics say one thing, Eastern Orthodox, though close, say another. Protestants are so confused they have over a thousand individual groups. The Coninuing Movement like Anglicanism, but reject the Church of England, the Convergance Movement wants to be Catholic and Orthodox, yet reject Rome and “Constantinople” – now, rejects is a strong word, rather, wishes to be independent yet in communion with.
In John 17, Christ prays that we all may be one, yet some where, we have failed the purpose of Christ, for Christ came to bring the people of God together, not to scatter the sheep. Is it because of disorder, or is it because we have lsot focus of the love of God? Yes, but yet, it goes further then that. Proverbs says that God knows the ways of man, and those ways are not His ways. Solomon goes as far as saying that all of man’s plans and desires are vanity. However, man has invaded the Body of Christ. Isaiah does say that man will see visions and dream dreams, yet, he does not offer the answer to their interpretation, and sometimes visions are just visions, and dreams are just dreams, not prophecy, but windows into our own soul. Sometimes we will see ourselves in the arms of Jesus, high and lifted up, in His comfort, it does not mean we should create a theology around it. Sometimes God tells someone that he is going to give you a Mercedes, yet, that does not mean you should base you faith upon whether or not it happens. Sometimes we should clap our hands, sometimes we should bow in silence for hours, neither is perfect, and neither is superior, only right in their own time. Sometimes, because of pride or because of our upbringing, we judge others who worship God, yet, though we judge, it does not make the others actions either right or wrong. Sometimes God gives us a glimpse of heaven, or of the Second Coming of Christ, however, it does not mean we should focus on the future or the hear after.
Christ said what you have done for the least of these, you have done for me. Clothing the naked, feeding the poor, taking care of the sick, protecting the widow and the orphan… that was Christ’s message. Not hell fire and brimstone, not what waits for us when we die -whether its Heaven or Purgatory – those are selfish and vain attempts to understand the un-understandable, and they are selfish. Christ wishes for us to be selfless, like Mother Theresa and others… like Christ was. Instead of focusing on ourselves, focus on others – everyone else is what matter. WWJD? Simple, He would serve, He would was your feet, he would heal your diseases. Ask yourself, why do you pray, why do you worship? Is it for Him and others, or is it for yourself? Why do you carry an offense? IS it for Him and others, or is it for yourself? Why do you “serve” God, for you? OR is it for Him and others? Why do you judge others, or correct others… for you? Or for Him and others?
I see the troubles in my own life, as well as others. I see the troubles in denominations, and “non”-denominations, and the one chord that strikes true.. yes, truth, is selfishness. Whether its our own sin, or other’s sins, there is always a focus on the sin, not the healing. Oh, well say we tried to help the healing process, but is that really true, or do we always have our own agenda? Did the Pope and the other Patriarchs try to heal the divide in 1054? OR did they have their own agenda? Did Luther truly try ot heal? Did Calvin? When we see a child “ruined” by a Roman Catholic priest, do we try to heal, or gain money… for I suppose money heals all wounds. Do we try to heal both the male/female and the priest? OR do we focus on the abused? When a man or woman is leadership fails, do we try to fix only the ship, or do we try to fix both the ship and the captain? OR, do we just throw the captain overboard… whether in the name of love and forgiveness, or in the name of righteousness?
This brings me back to a discussion between myself and my priest – aka. Big Bro – who condemned Judas? Did Christ condemn him, or did he condemn himself? It always easier to blame others – i.e. The Pope blamed the East, the Patriarchs blamed the West; Luther blamed Rome, Rome blamed Luther, yet, Christ said remove the log in your own eye before you even bring attention to the speck in your brothers eye. Yes, men fail, we all do, and if one man is sinning, we all are. If we are hurt, I promise you the one “doing” the hurting is hurting as well, and both parties are responsible for the healing, whether its two groups, or two men, or one man against a group, both parties are equally responsible.
I say this for many reasons, I have seen it on many levels. Both caused by me, and felt by me, as well as seen by me. MY denomination – the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (http://www.iccec.org http://www.cechome.org) – has suffered. Just this week, we lost a beloved bishop in Africa, the first one we consecrated there, and his mission, his life, was all about bringing the whole continent of Africa to the truth of Christ, not some agenda, not some ideology, but a relationship with who Christ is. Sometimes though, we can get caught up in problems, in pain, in discomfort, in, as our local bishop mentioned, suffering, and instead of looking within ourselves, we blame others.
We have many examples, jsut look in the phone book of your local town – how many Baptist churches are there? Most likely they all have their roots in First Baptist. Catholics are not immune, Roman, Old, etc; Anglican too. Even Convergence Churches share in the splitting – CEC, CEEC, CCC, CCR, CCC #2, etc etc… The question is why? Is it because God gives us all different visions and dreams… unlikey, for logically Christ would give us all the same vision, for He prays that we all may be one. More likely it is because someone has taken an offense, harbored unforgiveness… yes, that wondrous word, and gone somewhere else, or had a new idea.
One can say he forgives, but what does that mean? Forgiveness means sacrifice and release, it means loving when you are unloved, it means blessing when you are not being blessed. It means staying in the family, evn when the family seems to turn against you, for, as the question states, who is right? Does God give a vision that cannot be fulfilled? I seriously doubt it, for God only speaks truth. Does forgiveness negate the hurt, no, of course not, but it channels it correctly, and instead of breeding judgment, it breeds healing and blessing. Instead of confusion and chaos, it breeds order.