Methodist Neighbor at it Again


#1

Here we go again. This is a response from again my Methodist neighbor regarding a friend of his who is not a Christian who’s name is Ron. I have made bold in red where we disagree…any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks guys!!!

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of “glittering generalities,” especially the false assumption of the Press that “Christianity = fundamentalism.” Some holy-rollers on a quest for Power take advantage of this misconception. It is a small minority of Christians who are rigid narrow-minded fundamentalists. They are by no means mainstream, despite their political involvement, which is exaggerated.

And never assume that all believers of a certain stripe agree with their most radical brothers.

I would stick my neck out so far as to say MOST Christians are not in full agreement about all the details. However, they all agree on the core beliefs.

Even the more rigid dogmatic traditions of the Roman Catholic, Jewish and Eastern Orthodox churches have their internal disagreements.

There is a worldwide movement toward Christian Unity, comprised of people who have seen the Truth AND have open minds.

Rigid, narrow-minded thinking causes division. Flexible, open-minded thinking encourages unity.

You are absolutely right about the Golden Rule. It comes straight out of the Bible that you view as a source for “antiquated and nasty remedies.” And although Jesus said it in Matthew, He was making reference to its use by the ancient Hebrews in the Old testament. The Golden Rule pre-dates written language, and every major faith tradition has its version of it. Karma, anyone?

Taoist tradition matches Christian teaching rather well. Even the duality of Taoism sounds a lot like the parables of Christ, and the couplets of Isaiah. No contradictions there.

As for “arrogance” about the One True God, this is actually an area of agreement among major religions. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God. As far as “our way is the right way” thinking goes, that is pretty much true of any organized group. Who wants to join a group that says, “It really doesn’t matter what you believe in?” Okay, maybe Unitarian Universalists, and perhaps Ba’hai, but no major mainstream group.

Note to Ron: That was a joke. Unitarian Universalists are actually mainstream Christians, sort of. A lot of people who think like you end up in that group.

There are actually mainstream Christian denominations that promote tolerance of those whose beliefs are different. In fact, my church promotes “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.”

Both President Bush and Hillary Clinton belong to my church. We have no “litmus test.”


#2

Rigid, narrow-minded thinking causes division. Flexible, open-minded thinking encourages unity.

Sure. Only, the resulting unity is a mile wide and an inch deep. One can have unity in a math class by grading every answer as correct, but is that a useful unity?


#3

While it’s true that there is disagreement on issues that are acknowledged to be “unknown” or that are peripheral to the core beliefs, one of the things that actually defines an orthodox religion (ie; causes it to be “orthodox” as opposed to “liberal”, etc,) is the fact that there is a set of core doctrines upon which every serious practitioner of that particular religion agrees. (We are not talking here about people who are not educated in their faith, or who personally disagree with what they know to be core doctrines for various reasons.)

Rigid, narrow-minded thinking causes division. Flexible, open-minded thinking encourages unity.

Open-minded thinking causes people to be civil with one another while in the same room, and to keep the conversation away from matters of doctrine; it does not produce any kind of real, interior unity, however. If you may believe that abortion is okay, while I may believe that it is sinful, we are being “open-minded,” but I bet we are not going to bring up the subject of abortion when we are together.

Taoist tradition matches Christian teaching rather well. Even the duality of Taoism sounds a lot like the parables of Christ, and the couplets of Isaiah. No contradictions there.

I don’t know enough about Taoism to be able to comment. However, Jesus never taught dualism, in the sense that I understand that term. (Meaning that God and the Devil are equals, and that it is of little significance whom we choose to follow, just so long as we are consistent - if we follow the Devil, then the Devil’s things are “good” while God’s things are “bad,” and vice versa - this leads to relative thinking, which Jesus most emphatically opposed - Jesus had a concrete sense of absolute right and wrong, as we can see from the Sermon on the Mount.)

As for “arrogance” about the One True God, this is actually an area of agreement among major religions. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God.

There is a sense in which that may be true, since Muslims at least make a sincere attempt to worship the God of Abraham. However, how we describe God has at least as much to do with what it is that we are worshipping, and if we look at the Muslim description of God, and compare it to the Christian idea of God, we see two completely different things.


#4

Yes…BUT…does he regularly cut his grass:D
Sure, we have our ultra liberal and then we have our conservatives fighting for the soul of our denomination.
Your neighbor is a relativist. You are in completely different mindsets. Waste of your time I would think.


#5

A methodist church near me had this message on its sign last summer.

“Many Paths But One Destination”

Sounds a lot like the thinking of your friend.


#6

“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it on something solid.”

  • G.K. Chesterton

Enough said.

Peace.


#7

:cool:


#8

Yes indeed. GK Chesterton said it best in “Orthodoxy.” It’s worth the read. No cheap answers.


#9

Two quick things.

First, I would point out to your friend that Jesus never teaches “tolerance.” He teaches Love. Love does not tolerate Love’s enemies. I would not ‘tolerate’ my wife’s use of heroin. Nowhere in the Gospels is Jesus meek and complacent - he is always calling people to conversion and change. Jesus was, in that sense, one of the least tolerant people who ever lived. Anyone who honestly looks at the Christ of the New Testament will be struck by that.

Second, his point about open-mindedness encouraging unity isn’t true. Look at the early Church - they were vehemently preaching against heresy. They did not ‘unify’ themselves with people who taught against orthodox (i.e. Catholic) doctrine - they cried out against them more passionately than the Vatican does with heretics now. Christ told his disciples that they would have to fight for their beliefs and even die for them against false doctrine. And if the Church hadn’t been like that, there would be no Christianity for your Methodist friend to be open minded about.


#10

#11

Well said, EB. “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything,” as the modern history of many of the former mainline denominations proves. :frowning:


#12

That is an absurd statement. The Muslim and Christian “Gods” both create the world; both will judge sin and reward righteousness; both send prophets; both are described as merciful and all-powerful; and so on and so forth.

“Completely” different means that there are no points of similarity whatsoever. If you mean “significantly” different (which is a defensible claim), you should say so.

Edwin


#13

Thank you for the correction - yes, I meant “significantly.” There are, as you’ve pointed out, some areas of similiarity. Of those outside of the Judeo-Christian world-view, Muslims are probably closer to us in their beliefs than any of the others. :slight_smile:


#14

I believe it is a fact that mainline churches that are trying to be all things to all people are gradually dying out. Membership is declining while denominations with more rigid systems of belief as well as the Catholic Church are increasing in membership. Most people want answers that are the same today as they were in the past and will be the same in the future.


#15

I couldn’t agree more although he tells me we are declining in numbers. I don’t believe that for a minute. Any sources out there that would provide me with a backup would be appreciated?


#16

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