Monday, July 17, 2017

Whither Dialogue

For a people whose go-to ideas
are love of God
and love of others,
Christians can be pretty horrible toward one another.

Yes, Christians will root like crazy
for one of their own,
 when compliant,
but will often as willingly and passionately
go about the work of discrediting them, ridiculing them,
shaming and shunning them
when they dare to deviate.

I know;
I am one of their sinners.

But my offense wasn’t a moral lapse of any kind.
It wasn’t an abuse of power
or a moral transgression
or some financial misdeed,
or any sort of ministry impropriety.

My sin
is that I don’t stick to the script.
I deviate.
I dare to ask questions.
I challenge the status quo.
I move against the grain.
I am a radical,
a rebel,
a troublemaker.

I ask questions
about reconciling eternal punishment with an all-loving God,
and I challenge matters of life and faith
that have become foregone conclusions to most believers.

I don’t give many answers.
I only ask people to ask the questions.
I try to set a table for a conversation.
I welcome doubt.

And so I became a dirty word in church circles;
a pariah,
a heretic
(not really such a bad word).

I simply pose questions
that surface in the excavation of deep faith.
I look to separate what in this religion
 is of God
what is of the hierarchy,
what is of the clergy,
and what is of the people.

I simply asked myself
why I believe what I believe,
asking believers to do the same.

The problem isn’t that Christians disagree,
it’s that they disagree without dialogue.
They have lost the ability to welcome diversity of thought.
The Church has become a members-only club,
defined by the narrowest of doctrines
with a singular understanding of God
and Scripture.

Religion has become
a closed system,
closed to different ideas,
closed to growth and transformation,
it's true purpose.

The moment that anyone,
however prayerful or thoughtful or earnest,
comes to a conclusion other than what has been defined as acceptable,
they get kicked to the curb.

As Christian leaders
cling tighter and tighter to one, narrow narrow faith tradition,
they expel anyone who doesn’t check all the right boxes,
who doesn’t say all the right words
in all the right ways
using all the right Bible verses.

Many people are genuinely looking for God,
not afraid of the difficult questions as they search.
They don’t run from the tension between what they read in the Bible
and what they experience every day.
But they’re looking for an evolving, useable faith
that stands up to scrutiny,
and a Church that allows space for growth
giving real grace a chance
for transformation.

They’re looking for a faith community
that doesn’t dismiss and eliminate and destroy
those whose conclusions don’t all line up neatly with the party line.
They want to be part of a people
who seek and wrestle and coexist,
 in the questions.

They’re looking to find Jesus
 in the way Christians deal with one another,
missing in most churches these days.

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