Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Reimagining Christianity 1.1

This week the blog returns, off and on, to the joyous work of being site of an on-line adult Christian education conversation. CW will continue to interrupt with random comments on whatever happens to strike his curious brain, but "major" posts will focus for the next six weeks or so on topics related to Reimagining Christianity. The jumping off point for the conversations comes from the Phoenix Affirmations.
Affirmation 1 says this: for Christians, loving God includes walking fully in the path of Jesus, without denying the legitamcy of other paths God may provide humanity.
For a long time now, there has been a kind of "lazy lay liberalism" that affirms this point. It has been liberal in accepting the validity of other paths. It has been lay in that the attitude is broadly shared "in the pews." Alas, it has been "lazy" in that it has been articulated as a doubt concerning orthodoxy rather than as a principle of Christian theology based in scripture and in our understanding of God.
The image above -- found when I googled "salvation" -- should tell you all you need to know about what conservative evangelicals think about affirmation 1. If not, then, imbedded in an otherwise obnoxious article, First Things provides a helpful description of what conservatives think of lay liberalism. They pretty much think we need to be saved from our own thoughts and that they are the ones to do it.
So, for the sake of beginning a conversation, a few questions:
First, what's your "first-blush" response to affirmation 1?
Second, where might you turn in scripture to support this view? (In other words, how might this affirmation transcend the label of "lay liberalism"?)
Third, how might such an affirmation change the church?
And for those of you spying on progressive pastors and looking for grounds for heresy charges let me just help you out: I absolutely believe that following Jesus does not mean salvation for all can be found only in Jesus. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God's ways higher than our ways. There is nothing more human than imagining that our way is the only way.
At the risk of "truthiness" and with appropriate cautions, there is an informative piece on universal salvation on Wikipedia.

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