New Background

Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Labile Labels

I don’t ‘get it’. I don’t understand the many labels of Christianity. That’s not entirely true. I understand there ARE millions of labels for denomination, affiliation, worship, etc. What I don’t understand is the absolute loss of cohesion and unity in this effort to focus on the differences for names sake.

I was recently reading something about the ‘missional church’ and how new visitors are sometimes expecting a contemporary church and find something much different at a missional church. I got to thinking about what it all means. As of 1980, according to one researcher, there are over 20,000 different Christian denominations.

I read the “Bible for Dummies’ some time ago and it stated within 3 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were already over 900 different ‘cults’ (the book used this word to identify separation from Jesus’ original message as taught by the disciples) solely because of misunderstanding what was taught.

I had a pastor preach about gifts once and I think it could actually have a more global application. His catchphrase was: “Same goal, different roles.” Maybe that’s it. Maybe we remain so inwardly focused on our role individually or our role as a church, that we lose the universal and Biblical GOAL as focus.

There are a few (and by a few I mean thousands) of words that could seem a bit more ‘role focus’ than ‘goal focus’ when it comes to sharing Christ with others. Some of these words are so misunderstood they shouldn’t be used. These include, but are most certainly not limited to:

Abba Abrahamic Absolution Advent Agape Amen Anagogy Animism Annunciation Anabaptist Antibaptist Antichrist Babel Baptism Beget Blasphemy Canon Catechism Celibrant Chalice CHRISTIAN Communion Decalog Deist Dogma Ecclesiology Emerging Church Evangelical Fundamentalist Gentile Gnosticism Gospel Illuminati Inclusivism Koinonia Liberal Christianity Liturgy Logos Mainstream Manicheanism Mennonites Naturalism Neo-orthodoxy New Covenant Theology Occult The 3-O’s Opus Dei (except from DaVinci Code) Pantheon Parousia Parthenogenesis Pentecost Pluralism Polemics Polytheist Post Modern Post Millennialism Quaker Rapture Rationalism Religion Rhema Sacraments Sanctification Secular Theist Transfiguration Unitarian Voluntarism Worship Yahweh Zealots… found here…

Trust me when I say; there are very few new Christians or non-Christians who would tolerate the use of these words without clear understanding. What’s the point of adopting a ‘theology’ without understanding what you’re adopting? I didn’t express an interest to learn more, until I understood what was being said.

Do you know the origin of your particular denomination? Do you know the theology of your church, or your pastor? Do they align? Do you know the beliefs of the person you sit by in church…or any of the people in your church? How much does it matter?

I sense a real need for unity and have for some time. For some reason, what I’ve read lately really has me wondering if it’s possible, and if I’ll see it in my lifetime. In the spirit of Thomas…I doubt it.

Just pondering…on this leg of my journey.

7 comments:

Aunt Murry said...

Again, have you been running around in my head thinking my thoughts? I have had this conversation with my parents and my priest more than a couple of times. There is no answer. It is as diverse as there are stars in the heavens. All we can pray for is understanding and that when we are jusdged before God that we have lived our lives in accordance to his will. Probably not the answer you were looking for.

the voice said...

I personally do not fret over others' theology. We are all on the same journey, even if our beliefs differ slightly. What does worry me is that many simply cannot express what they actually believe, for fear that those around them will call them heretics. We, as the church, need to be more open to listening, as well as discussing what we each believe, without having to worry about judgement. We will never be "one church" until we learn to put aside our pride. Only God knows the absolute truth, and when we mere humans claim to know it, we are guilty of trying to elevate ourselves to God's level. Such folly. You've written a thought provoking post today, one worthy of much discussion. God bless you, Ken

Sally said...

I have a friend in Texas who calls herself an Episcobapticostalist! That'll just about cover it...

Tami Boesiger said...

Very thought provoking post. As someone who has made her share of mistakes, I have a hard time when Christians get critical of one another, even over big deals like the Ted Haggard thing. We all fall short. Yet I know how easy it is to judge others and struggle with it myself. It is no wonder Jesus prays in John 17:23 that His followers would have true unity. It is the best display of God's power. How else could we all work together, but through the grace of God?

Nancy said...

Thank you for the thought provoking post... I really think that as long as we worship and love the same God, live by the ten commandments, treat others the way you want to be treated, attend and participate in worship with other Chrisitian believers, and maintain a relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship...then that's all that really matters. I think that is a recipe for a better world.

Spookie the Warrior said...

Unity is possible, when Jesus becomes the center of everything.

R.G. said...

Fantastic post! I do have to say that when I became a Christian around 1999, we learned all about the Lutheran church we were joining and I studied the history so that I would know what the denomination meant. I would not have been able to commit myself to something I didn't understand and agree with! Now we belong to a non-denom and I do miss some of the Lutheran influence, but I enjoy being relatively un-labeled.