May 11, 2006

A Great Reminder

We love to polarize things. We love to define someone so that we can classify them and then assume we know all they believe because they make a few statements that we disagree with.

The ACLU Is Not Evil - Christianity Today Magazine: "Yet I must confess that, although I am pleased to balance the record, defending the ACLU is not my primary purpose here. I am more concerned about a habit of mind that seems to be growing among my fellow Christians, both political liberals and conservatives. That is, we seem to mimic the secular world's conflation of disagreement with wickedness, as if not sharing my worldview places my critic outside the realm of rational discourse."

How can we, as Christians, come to a place where we don't allow people to have different opinions without castigating them?

For me, I think it is the difference between Creed and Dogmatic Doctrine. Doctrine defines a belief structure down to the smallest classification, and then subjects its adherents to the rigors of its belief. Creed is more like a boundary. You know, by way of the Creed, when you have stepped outside of the boundaries.

The Christian faith is one of Creed. I believe it was John Wesley who said, "If your heart is like my heart, then give me your hand." He understood that good Christians had differences of doctrine and opinion, but they could live under the same Creed.

How many times have we allowed doctrine to separate us? How many times has a Calvinist and Arminian leveled un-Christlike attitudes toward each other because of doctrinal differences? Yes, doctrine makes a difference, but we are to live by Creed.

There are boundaries that we can not cross and remain part of the Christian faith, but doctrines come and go and change and develop.

We reject the idea of tolerance because we think it compromises our faith. But tolerance simply means that we allow other ideas to exist without abusing those who hold to them. We allow them to exist just as they allow us to exist.

We cannot close the very minds God has given us. We must treat our neighbors, even those who have different opinions and beliefs, with God's love.

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