Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Holy Wars Escalate

The Holy Spirit is moving in me, or something. It's the "Or something" part that really worries me. I've been drawn into great debates recently about faith and the practice of it.
Let's start with one of my newest friends, a member of an evangelical congregation. He recently asked me if I think Catholics are Christians.
He apparently does not. Um, Brother, Catholics are the original Christians. Everything else, including your church, is an offshoot. Remember Jesus established his church using St. Peter as his foundation. The Pope, the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, is a direct successor to the man Jesus Christ himself put in charge.
You won't hear Catholics asking if evangelicals are Christians. I just don't grasp that way of thinking.

More recently, I received an e-mail responding to a February post about atheists speaking at Centenary College of Louisiana. I believe that a free exchange of ideas is important to strengthen faith. Only by hearing an opposing point of view can one intelligently reject that point of view. I prefer to be taught about religion and spirituality on a higher intellectual plane than your average Bible story offers on a run-of-the-mill Sunday. It's important to have your values reinforced from the pulpit, but one comes to a better understanding through intellectual exploration. A lot of the time, in my opinion, ministers play to emotion and fear.
That has great value. It works. I just think sometimes reason goes out the window.
So, anyway, the e-mail takes me to task, asserting "Very few kids that age know anything about the evidence that supports their faith....almost none of them have read books like...""THE CASE FOR FAITH....OR THE CASE FOR CHRIST...OR EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT...or any number of books written in the last 25 years that dramatically support the evidence of God and for Jesus's divinity....."
which goes back to my orginal premise that the problem is not having an atheist presenter, it's a lack of foundation offered to those "kids" over the last 18-20 years.
The e-mail also asks if Centenary offered programs to balance the atheist presentation. Well, yeah. On-campus religious organizations and activities for students include Icthus (United Methodist Student Movement), Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Roman Catholic mass, Canterbury House (Episcopal Church), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Soul Interest Bible study. Stepping Stones, a student-led ecumenical praise and worship service is held weekly in Brown Chapel.
For the record, my son will be a freshman at Centenary this fall. I expect the professors to challenge him. I expect the administration to bring a broad range of views to campus. I expect he will leave there a well-rounded, well-educated person. Hopefully, his faith will be reinvigorated not in spite of the fact that other points of view were offered, but because of it.
All the while, my daughter has become active in a non-liturgical, evangelical congregation. I hope after she spends a little more time there, she still believes she comes home to a Christian-based house.

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Unknown said...

As long as we're discussing...Jesus was a feminist...By the way have you seen those cool stickers Shreveport artist Alan Dyson has created? His idea is to view the whole world as a Church instead of viewing it as a little building.

Dave and Shannon said...

I fully support your point that being exposed to other beliefs only strengthens your own. Every year I attend Jewish life cycle events, and every time I more closely identify with my Christian beliefs. I think it's good for me... because I always am glad to come back "home," and understand more clearly WHY I do.

In my small-town Southern experience, the narrow minded protesting of events like these not only paints a bad picture of (perhaps non tolerant?) believers, but points to a clear lack of faith in one's fellow Christians. Oy vey!

Unknown said...

I find Evangelical Christians a bit scary in that they are so CERTAIN of everything. YIKES!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

"Jesus was a feminist" - yeah, to a point. He was a feminist in the true sense of the word. He recognized and upheld the dignity of women. He didn't choose any female Apostles.

I don't recall scripture ever saying "Upon this Rock I will build my Church, at least until Luther, Henry VIII, Calvin decide my Church is wrong."

I never understood how Church of Englanders could follow a Church started by a guy who beheaded two of his six wives (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard), as well as Catholics who disagreed with him (St. Thomas More). A tyrant, murderer, and adulterer and he started a religious denomination? How is this Christian?

What charge from God did these men have to break from the one true Church? There were no prophesies, no miracles, no way to tell this was God's will.