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Friday, April 30, 2010

"If your heart is as my heart, take my hand." - John Wesley

I met our newly appointed Sr. Pastor last night for the first time at a small reception for him and his wife.  For a couple of hours we all introduced ourselves with a little background information and were asked to speak of one thing we found to be a blessing in our church (Methodist).

When my turn came around, I spoke of the Baptist influence in my upbringing, then my move to a fantastic Presbyterian church in Richardson as an adult (Plug: Canyon Creek Presyterian Church), then to our current Methodist church.

To address the "blessing" part, I mentioned the theological diversity found in our congregation.  Were it not for this diversity, I might never have been exposed to more progressive Christian views that have been such a huge blessing in my life, mostly within the past year.

This exposure did not come without some pain.  A challenge of diversity is a tendency to seek like-minded people.  We feel secure when our beliefs are affirmed by others and we feel better about ourselves.  But when decisions need to be made by diverse groups, tensions can rise, people can begin to feel threatened, and it does not always proceed in a loving, compassionate, unified manner.  This is true in business, politics and other social venues, but I think even more so when when deeply held values and beliefs are involved.

The tension.  The tension can break us apart if we allow it.  But as I've told colleagues and employees in "less-than-optimal" business environments, "Wouldn't it be a shame to go through all this crap and learn nothing from it; be no better for it?"  In this case, I am far better for it.

If you've read my blog it'll certainly be of no surprise to you that my beliefs are transforming and moving in a more progressive direction.  Yet there is still this tension.  Actually, many tensions. A tendency to try to convince others of my new perspectives.  Although there is nothing wrong with sharing our faith in conversation with those who might be interested, I'm becoming less interested in convincing, and I hope, becoming more accepting that their faith tradition gives them peace.

Another tensions is that between the old and the new.  If I look back, I see where the old paradigm taught me many things about God.   But the questions and answers where different back then.  If the answer was "Yes, you've been saved", the question many years ago for me might have resembled "Will God save me from his wrath for all of my sins for all of eternity?"  You'll note from my previous blog posting that I no longer obsess about Atonement theology.  Now the question is more likely to resemble "Saved from what?  Saved for what?" and the answers: "From yourself, your selfishness, and ego" and "For relationship, compassion, and service".

I would assert that regardless of our literal - conservative or metaphorical - liberal theological bents, regardless of what we think we are saved from, we are all made for relationship with God, our neighbors, and service, in this life.

"If your heart is as my heart, take my hand." -- John Wesley

Blessing my friends.


  1. I like this part best: Now the question is more likely to resemble "Saved from what? Saved for what?" and the answers: "From yourself, your selfishness, and ego" and "For relationship, compassion, and service".

    I have been on a similar journey for the past 2 and a half definitely isn't an easy journey (as you said) but it is encouraging to see where I am now compared to where I've been. : )

  2. Thank you for your comments! I've found many people on twitter who are on similar journeys and I'm following them as fast as I can in yet another effort to (as I reference above) seek like-minded people.

    Unfortunately, I see much conflict among differing views and experiences, manifesting itself in a very ugly fashion and I'm occasionally tempted to jump right in.



  3. Yep, I remember it was an interesting slide leftwards when I made Anglican my home denomination for a few years; one minute I was naively bumbling along, the next I was aware of this thing called "diversity" and the next couple of years saw my own views head pretty straight into the radical-liberal camp. All changes of view were reasonable in my eyes. The hard part comes in acknowledging validity in others' faith-paths when they've not been through that "diversity is OK" doorway.

    If you've not read Brian McLaren's _A Generous Orthodoxy_, I can highly recommend it for the chapter on salvation - taking a wider view of salvation, not as individualistic "my ticket to heaven" but rather as an all-embracing unification of the world with God with outreaches into environmental concern, etc. The rest of the book's not too bad either.

  4. Thank you Tim. I am currently reading Brian McLaren's "A New Kind of Christianity" and I absolutely love it! I'll definitely add A Generous Orthodoxy to the reading list!

    By the way, love your posts and contributions on twitter.

  5. Hey Allen, I liked this. Cool that you've found a way to affirm the faith journeys of more conservative believers. As my own faith has moved in a more progressive direction over the past few years, this continues to be a challenge for me. This was a good reminder that "relationship, compassion, and service" applies to everyone!

  6. Drew,

    Thank you for your comments. By the way, I read your blog post on "Evangelism and making the sale" a while back and really like it...a lot.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  7. Hi Allen,

    Firstly, thanks for being my first follower on gave me the kick up the butt I needed to start tweeting.

    Secondly (and regarding your post):

    One of the amazing things about globalization is that we became more aware of others. One of the most amazing things about digitization is the ability to connect with them.

    This can be painful because of our own deep commitment to certain truth claims that have been formed at a certain point in space & time. The death of our beliefs can feel like the death of self. It certainly has gotten me into hot water at church when I changed my mind on doctrines and behaviors many considered badges of orthodoxy. Nevertheless it is important for the church to go through these times. Thats why I love you're quote...

    "Wouldn't it be a shame to go through all this crap and learn nothing from it; be no better for it?"

    Thanks for the posts

    "Cultured Conversation, not cultural war...

  8. Thank you Allen :) Your above words could almost be my words. I too, am reading Brian McLaren's newest book, I too love it. Thank you for your friendship on FB and Twitter.

  9. If the earth is the Lord's and everything it contains, then the internet is His too. What an amazing tool He's given us for love and connection for this big Body of His. As Dan pointed out, globalization is opening up (and challenging) Christian communication like never before. No longer is it just my little patch of earth with my God beliefs and moments, I'm confronted with God in His people from all over the planet. Wow, what an opportunity to grow in our knowledge of Him as we talk with all these brothers and sisters in Christ. If we really trust the Holy Spirit to do in us what He said He would (lead us into all truth) then we don't need to be threatened by the diversity. In fact, He'll use the diversity to reveal a bunch about Himself if we'll let Him. If our goal is to know Him - then yippee should be our response!

  10. Yes! I am so there! I was "raised attending a methodist church on Christmas and Easter" and saved in a Southern Baptist church, went to college at University of Florida and went to church with friends and went wherever they went as I moved around circles. My husband and I chose to attend the Methodist church as a family and I have been feeling so much conflict and confusion for years! I have wondered if I was wrong for believing the things I did. I felt scared to truly talk about the problems I was having with faith and social justice issues. I was constantly in conflict and trying to conform. To submit my life. To have faith. So many times I felt so crazy with confusion...especially when I started studying Beth Moore and took everyone of her bible studies. Ugh! Confused!
    Now, for the first time in my life, I have lifted a bag off my head. I finally feel a new freedom and faith in Jesus. I love Jesus! And I am so glad I can start talking about the things that really matter IN CHURCH! Yes I am a progressive and I am proud to be one. I want to stamp out hunger, give medicare to everyone, and stop corporate control in our country! And I am okay now saying that along with saying I would love to talk to other christians about it! Yes! Spirituality and social justice do go hand and hand. Jesus was right!