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Christian Harmony

Michael Westmoreland-White is singing the praises of Christian traditions other than his own (Baptist). I resonate with much of what he has written about the beauty, depth, and passion he finds in all the disparate branches of the Christian family. I especially appreciate his insistence that these traditions ought not be watered down in the name of some kind of fluffy Kum-bah-yah ecumenism:

Nonetheless, let me conclude by dissenting  from those who, whether or not in the name of “emerging” Christianity (a  movement so vaguely defined that I am never sure whether or not I like it!),  want to get beyond all particular Christian traditions.  Denominations, of course, are human institutions, and fallible.  But theological traditions and families have usually preserved vital aspects of the  gospel that are missed or downplayed by other traditions.  Generic forms of Christianity, it seems to me, do not end up recovering the fullness of the Gospel (whatever their intent), but in  losing ALL those vital elements preserved in various Christian traditions.  The scandal of the divided Church is not that we come in different traditions, but that we have so often been willing to deny that the others ARE Christian–at many times in history even being willing to shed blood over which was the “real Church.”

I love being in ecumenical meetings with people from other parts of the Body of Christ.  But I want the Catholics I meet to be authentic Catholics, the Presbyterians genuinely Reformed, etc.  We should  sing in harmony, not simple unity.

Well said, and Amen.

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2 Comments

  1. I like this view point. It is an extension of the children’s song: We love because He first loved us. I’ve gone on many blogs of a certain branch of my denomination. The writers are usually so adamant that there is only one way to interpret the Bible, one way of “TRUE” worship, and only certain types of hymns make the grade. I’ve argued with some of these writers, which is a bad thing to do because I end up feeling put down. I have no problem with people who say that they worship and interpret in a certain way for such and such reasons, but there seems to be hubris in claiming that our was is the better way, or only true way……Which is like saying that if you live 500 miles or 5000 miles from one of those churches than you don’t have true worship or can receive communion. Most of us worship either as our parents did or as the closest church does. Is God’s hand in that?

    This sort of viewpoint seems to be based on certain interpretations of the Bible. I certainly do believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t believe that every interpretation is necessarily correct nor blessed by God. But I think that very sincere and educated Christians have come to very differing interpretations of the same words.

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  2. D. P. says:

    PS, I pity anyone who takes it upon themselves to argue with members of their own denomination! 🙂 Thanks for adding your thoughts.

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