In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can we hold some different Beliefs, yet still be one in Christ?

Can you remember a few posts back when I said that I was praying that God would make me aware of if my religion was getting in the way?

Well God's been answering my prayers in ways I didn't expect.

I've never considered myself a Christian bigot. I've always said that as long as someone has received God's provision for our sins through Christ's death on the cross, and is follower after Christ, that this is all that matters. I have friends who participate in varied forms of Christianity; Independent, Protestant, Catholic. There are authors I adore reading who fall into all the categories of Christianity.

By doctrine, I would fall into what could be termed Calvinistic. I am comfortable in many Protestant or Independent churches.

But several months back when my oldest son decided to convert to Catholicism, I was surprised that this bothered me. I found myself praying a lot about it. I know that Devon's faith is real so he has the Holy Spirit to guide him, that just because he may believe some things which I do not, is not relevant. Yet, I really am ashamed to admit this, but it was a struggle for me. However, I left it up to God and had stopped thinking about it.

However, when we were at West Point these past few days, the Holy Spirit reminded me about my concerns when I attended a Catholic Baccalaureate service with Devon.

The service was so crowded that we had to stand in the back of the chapel. As I stood there next to Devon throughout the service some things hit me. One was the beauty and rich symbolism of the the service. As an "outsider" I noticed that Mass appears to have some set types of activities that take place, and some set responses from the congregants. Standing next to Devon and hearing him speak those responses and sing those songs from his heart, I was struck with his sincerity. These were not empty rituals for him, but rather affirmations of a faith deeply entrenched in his heart. My own soul was moved by the beauty of the service. I was convicted that perhaps I'd unknowingly held religious prejudices that may have hampered by ability to interact with others in the ways God wanted.

I'm still thinking about all this. Still trying to be receptive to any things the Holy Spirit may be trying to show me.

What about you, have you ever found ways that you may have religious prejudices? How has God used this knowledge to change the way you are used by Him?

18 comments:

Andrea said...

GOD has taught me much about respect amongst my friends who have varying belief systems.
Blessings,
andrea

RCUBEs said...

There is a good reason why God commanded us to "love one another" after loving Him first. We can't rely on our own feelings, beliefs, etc...as we are unstable in our ways. God is not. Unity comes only from knowing His love[Colossians 3:14]. May we see things through His eyes. Great questions. God bless.

Being Me said...

Even within the same group it's possible to have prejudices.

What counts is at the end it was all for the good.

FishHawk said...

When it comes to Catholicism, it all comes down to where one's priorities lie. For in order to be a good Catholic, one cannot be a good Christian because most of their doctrines are quite contrary to what our Heavenly Father actually says is absolutely true. In all fairness, the same can be said of all of the major Protestant denominations. For the vast majority of what they teach is based (in one way or another) upon the premise that much of what has happened in this world was never meant to be--especially in regards to sin entering into it. Of course, not as much is required to be a good "Baptist." Whereas, one is required to fully accept the righteousness of such things as "The Rosary" in order to be a good Catholic, and "The Rosary" is a prayer to the Virgin Mary, as another path that leads to favor with her son, Christ Jesus. Please, do not take this as an attack upon the sincerity of neither your son, nor yourself, but being sincere is not the same as being in the Truth. After all, was not Saul quite sincere in his pursuit of those he considered to be enemies of His God before He came to truly know Him and became the Apostle Paul {Galatians 1:13-14}? Now, none of this is meant to say that we should treat all who do not believe as they should as an enemy, but since all who are truly in Christ are supposed to be of the same mind--His mind, to be exact {1 Corinthians 2:6-16; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:4-7}, how can we treat differing beliefs with merely a shrug of the shoulder? Granted, levels of Spiritual maturity must be taken into account, but even so-called babes in Christ should be able to recognize what is truly of our Heavenly Father and what is not, even if they do not fully understand what they are hearing yet. Alas, be assured that it grieves our Heavenly Father deeply that far too many would rather walk in the darkness of Spiritual ignorance than be in the Light of His absolute Truth {Matthew 7:21-23; James 1:5-8; 1 John 1:5-7}.

Tracy said...

Jerry - I have all the same concerns about "Truth" as you with regard to Catholicism - hence my concerns when Devon converted. But, even though I do not see everything that Catholicism teaches as Bible truth (that's why I'm not a Catholic), I have to go back to what makes us a Christian. When I read the Bible I see that as long as someone has received God's provision for our sins through Christ's death on the cross, and is follower after Christ, that this is the crux of faith; I can show anyone from Genesis through Revelation that this is the repeated theme of the Bible. Once this has occurred we are promised that the Holy Spirit is sent to live within us and guide us into all truth. Though I can not seem to find everything that Catholicism teaches in the Bible, I want to be a person who focuses on our commonality in Christ and appreciates what other Christians have to offer. No, I'm not saying that "everybody is right"; obviously when two or more groups disagree they both can not be correct-one is either in truth or perhaps they've all missed the boat. But the fact is that on this side of heaven none of us can do more than to read the Bible and follow what we each individually believe the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do. And somehow I do not think that on the other side of heaven, any of these things will matter so much; somehow I picture that when we're in the presence of our living God, all we will do is fall down and worship His magnificance.

David-FireAndGrace said...

Interesting how we stereotype others, even when we don't mean to. Now what makes them funny is that there is a common thread of "truth." It is the same process that causes prejudice.

Having respect - no love for the brethren of other denominations is essential.

We are one in the Spirit, because it is the same Spirit. It is interesting how we are not unified (Eph 4) and that has to do with proper training. We either have Jesus, or we don't. The rest is about growing in faith - and anyone can be like a Pharisee.

Paul spoke about how to treat those of lesser faith.

Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

Personally, I think the Catholics are more faithful than most of the Protestants I know. They are not church hoppers - I'm just sayin'.

Good word.

Michelle said...

Wow x2. I didn't realize you leaned toward a Calvinistic way of thinking. And Wow: Calvin + Catholic do not mix. But...I understand you are not "Calvinist" so the transition could be an easy one. I agree with FishHawk, Truth is important and many of the things I studied in the Catholic religion do not seem to say that they rely on the grace of Christ but more on their own works.
I recently found a blog (and I tried to find it for you but can't, I'll keep looking) that is a group of men who were "Reformed Catholic." Interesting. I consider myself reformed and would think reformed and catholic would be contradictions. Anyways...I'll keep looking.

Now your ?....I have religious prejudices against pretty much anyone that states our own works and choices are as important as God's grace. I believe God gets all the glory and we get none. Over the past several years...you know what God has taught me? To shut up. I'm a debater by heart and I just need to shut up. I have to remind myself daily it is in His hands and He is on His throne. But I have to tell you, there are days when my tongue bleeds.

David-FireAndGrace said...

had forgotten that I wrote a lot about this a few months back.

http://fireandgrace.blogspot.com/2010/02/have-you-wondered-why-man-cant-fly-and.html

The history of the denominations will challenge you - and more so, help you find common ground on which you can stand arm and and arm with your brothers and sisters.

JD Curtis said...

The history of the denominations will challenge you - and more so, help you find common ground on which you can stand arm and and arm with your brothers and sisters

I agree. My wife and I are an interfaith couple. Sometimes we attend Mass together at her parish. Sometimes we attend the Calvinist Presbyterian church that I attend. It's great and keeps things interesting.

So long as it falls within mainstream, orthodox Christianity, then I'm all for it.

As I stood there next to Devon throughout the service some things hit me. One was the beauty and rich symbolism of the the service. As an "outsider" I noticed that Mass appears to have some set types of activities that take place, and some set responses from the congregants.

Which is the meaning of Catholicism. They will say those same words and responses the world over, in every single RC church, in nearly every country on the planet.

photogr said...

I guess I have been a church hopper (as David says) in the past mostly by numerous corporate relocations. The one thing it did allow me is the opportunity to try out numerous church faiths and scientology.

Some I fit in ok, others I was like a fish out of water. What it has done is forced me into following the scriptures as I understand them. However, this has been a blessing and a curse.

I can't be called a Catholic, a Scientologist, nor can I be called a Baptist or a Protestant. I think out side of the box and have different views. I do not conform to any religion theology but I am a follower of Christ' teachings.

So does that make me a rebel with out a church or a rebel sinner because I refuse to follow a set doctrin in established religions?

As I have read in history on religions, usually the one who did go against the norm in religious beliefs were usually the one that were ostracised. Martin Luther and Calvin come to mind as well as others.

FishHawk said...

Thank you so very much for your gracious response, my dear Tracy. For I fully expected you to lash-out in outrage or just delete the comment.

I was raised a devout very conservative Southern Baptist, with leanings toward Fundamentalism before that term came into vogue. In fact, I was even of the opinion that anyone who was not a Southern Baptist couldn't possibly be as close to God as they should be. Then I fell far away, and I preached many a drunken sermon in many a bar, with the main theme being that I would rather take my chances in Hell than have to be like the "good Christians" I knew in order to get to Heaven.

All of that changed when our Heavenly Father started making Himself real to me in 1993. Now, I had never doubted His existence, nor doubted the truth of His Gospel, but He was really nothing more than a character in an ancient book to me before.

Since then, He has revealed more and more about Himself and the righteous of all of His most awesome ways to me, and one of the things that truly breaks His heart is that most do not really want to truly have a very close and personal relationship with Him. For they want to believe that just accepting Christ Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior is all there is to it, when that is really just the beginning for most. For the relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with us is like a marriage, and accepting Christ Jesus is akin to getting married. Then comes the marriage itself. No, this has nothing to do with us having to do this or that to stay married, but we should want to be as much in Him as He will allow and enable us to, with all of that depending upon what He wants to accomplish in and through each individual. In other words, what is meant for me is not necessarily what is meant for you, but all who are truly in Him will have a basic understanding of what is going on.

It is in regards to that, that religious traditions have been getting in the way. For even what is taught in different Southern Baptist churches is not necessarily the same, and the differences in doctrines grow exponentially from denomination to denomination.

Tragically, instead of wanting to swallow our pride and accept that we may all be woefully deceived, most in the Christian community just shrug their shoulders and hope for the best. Alas, is this not like a wife being of the opinion that no relationship is perfect instead of wanting to change what may be wrong when her husband lets her know that something is wrong?

Of course, we would be just running around in all of the wrong directions if we cannot truly hear our Heavenly Father's voice, and this is something that most have been discouraged from doing. For it has been widely taught that He stopped speaking directly to us when the canon of Scripture was completed, but how can any of us be absolutely sure about anything without the witness of His Holy Spirit? After all, are not His ways much higher than our own? Therefore, how can we be so arrogant to think that what we call love is the same as what He does? Yes, we have our religious traditions, but without the witness of His Holy Spirit, how can we be sure that they are not based upon just the opinions of others not so unlike ourselves?

I am sorry for "preaching" so much. Be assured that there is so much more that I have been given to say, but it would be better to read it for yourselves on http://fishhawkdroppings.blogspot.com/ The first book in line is an abbreviated account of my life so far, and in the last two crumbs (chapters), I get into when our Heavenly Father started making Himself real to me. The rest of the books are meant to build upon what was started there, and I am convinced that it is all of our Heavenly Father.

Please, if you believe that I have been woefully deceived, do not hesitate to tell me about it. If you would rather not leave it as a public comment, you are certainly welcome to email me at FishHawk7@gmail.com. This invitation is open to all, of course.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Hi Tracy,

Regardless of what denomination we are there are certain basics which are, and should be, non-negotiable.

Belief in God our Creator.
Belief in Jesus as His only Son, who became human and died for us, and rose from the dead.
Belief in the Holy Spirit, who together with God and Jesus are three in one.

There are many other doctrines and dogmas, some based on the Bible, and some not, which many denominations teach and believe.

As a Catholic, I admit there are many beliefs which I, and others, struggle with. (I touch on some of these in my Blog - e.g. Purgatory; mentioned a few days ago).

The important thing though is our relationship with God which is, and should be, a personal one.

God is saying to us: "Don't worry what badge you're wearing. Just trust Me above all else."

God bless you Tracy.

Tracy said...

OK, so Victor, I've just got to tell you that you're my hero. What you just wrote here says exactly what I wanted to say - and so much better!

Tracy said...

Michelle - I can relate to the having to bite my tongue thing only too well (just wait until your kids are teens, you'll find yourself doing it even more frequently!). I said I would call myself a Calvinist simply because when I read the Bible I can't get away from the fact that God chose me (and all others who would come to faith) before the foundations of the world, and He gave me the faith to believe in Him, and He saved me when there's nothing I could ever do to earn this great salvation. Now as to if He chose those who He knew would choose Him - I can't tell you that. I can only tell you that it is His grace that brought me to Himself and His grace that keeps me there. But that does not mean that my Armenian brothers and sisters in Christ are not in Christ, just that we believe some things differently. I want to be like Rcubes talks about above - a person who loves others of faith even if we don't agree on all the details. I adore how Victor and David talk about loving others who have received God's provision for our sins through Christ's death on the cross, and choose to after Christ, not being concerned about what "badge" they wear but connecting to the same Holy Spirit that lives inside each of us.

Tracy said...

Jerry - Interesting, I was raised SBC as well. I think my dad may have thought that was the church closest to God too because he's never let me go to other churches. He finally conceded to letting me go to the Saturday night Christian rock concerts that the Calvary Chapel in our town held and that was awesome because my non Christian friends from school would go to those (when they had no interest in attending church with me) and many came to Jesus.

I rejoice with you Jerry in all that God's done in your life. We serve an awesome God and I can never get past all my gratitude for His choosing to have relationship with me. His grace, mercy, and love make me want my every breath of life to be about following after His plan for me.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Hi Tracy,

I have responded on my Blog to the points you make there about Purgatory.

God bless you.

JD Curtis said...

All of that changed when our Heavenly Father started making Himself real to me in 1993...Since then, He has revealed more and more about Himself and the righteous of all of His most awesome ways to me

I'll bet if you look back and examine the past, He was "revealing" Himself in certain ways back then also.

I think God is often doing such things. Some people are in tune with it. Yet others are completely oblivious to it.

FishHawk said...

@JD Curtis: Yes, you are exactly right about that, and that is the way it is for all of us. For what I was taught about our Heavenly Father not having anything to with those who have not turned their lives over to Him is as wrong as it can be. For He is with ALL of us from the moment of conception until the very end of our lives in this world--with all of that being for the purpose of drawing us ever closer and closer to Him, and when someone becomes "born again" in His only begotten Son, who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ, their eyes are opened to see (so to speak). Of course, it all depends upon what He wants to accomplish in and through each individual that determines to what extent their eyes are opened, but what does any of this matter to those who do not want to see? Hence, the source of our Heavenly Father's great sorrow at this time, but great will be His joy when the time comes for Him to gather all of His children by faith unto Himself to spend all of eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven as heirs to all that is His in glory!

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