I am a recovering "professional Christian." I'm seeking a community of faith (and of questioning faith) that is more inclusive, radically ecumenical and inter-faith, less bureaucratic, less doctrinal and tribal, more loving, less institutional and denominational, for worship that is more experiential and eclectic, and that seeks wisdom from a variety of wise people and world religious traditions.
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I'm so grateful for co-journers in this life who, at my request, help keep me accountable in doing the work of growing in grace and living in alignment with my professed faith. I've been a part of several accountable discipleship groups. Other faith traditions have similar covenantal groups through which the participants voluntarily ask each other for mutual accountability. Brothers John and Charles Wesley started a small accountable discipleship group while they were in college to help the members live as they believed. It was confessional and encouraging. At each meeting they asked each other a series of questions that included, "Have you committed sin this week?" and "Are you struggling with any temptation to sin?" They weren't prying or seeking grist for the rumor mill (gossip - defined by Wesley as "doing harm"). They asked so they could pray for one another, encourage each other, and seek "amendment of life." The shared conviction that they could "go on to perfection in love in this life" motivated them to ask for companion on the journey of faith to speak the truth in love to each other. Don't confuse this with some kind of "works righteousness." Think of it more as "faithful works." At the end of each meeting each person was asked, "How is it with your soul?"
Former student and lifelong friend Patrick Faulhaber is helping me edit the book I'm working on [Possible Faith, for those who are finding it less than so]. I'm working through my experience as a "professional Christian" in the United Methodist Church and inviting people to find a fellowship of people of multiple faiths and religious skeptics that is inclusive, confessional, simple in structure, focused on experiential spirituality, committed to incarnational service, in which love is valued over assent to any particular creed or doctrine. Patrick is helping me clarify my voice and be compassionate with my own story and with my readers. I declare in the preface, "I am seeking to be Christian in a way that is neither defensive nor divisive – that is hospitable, gracious, and inclusive, and that is humbly possible." He is helping me identify the places in my writing that contradict that intent - that are combative, accusatory, and negatively comparative (with my self-righteousness on display!).
Thank you all of my past, present, and future accountability partners! May we all people who will tell us the truth in love.
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In a recent op-ed by Aaron C. Kay and Mark J. Landau titled "Why so many people want to believe the election was stolen" the writers make this observation, "The election fraud narrative features three characteristics that supercharge its psychological appeal: It makes a complex and hostile world seem orderly, controllable and certain." They go one to reason that given these psychological (and I would ass theological) needs, elections results have to be fraudulent (according to those who won't believe factual, recounted, and certified results - i.e. reality) perpetuated by some shadowy evil design rather the because of random glitches in the process because they cannot accept a random or "chaordic" universe. Everything that happens happens by design - even divine design. The plan has to be "evil" to validate their cosmology and theology - they need an evil enemy. It has to be a powerful enemy, first to pull off the fraud and second, to be a worthy enemy of the "little guy."
Theologically, this is a kind of radical, ubiquitous, and twisted Calvinism coupled with a deep need/belief in a personified and very active Satan - a counterpart to Jesus. Jesus has not defeated sin and evil except on a personal level.
Reason is not an effective approach to conversation or conversion when an idea is deeply seated in a cosmology of a complete determinism and a god who is "in control" - yet not in enough control to defeat the machinations of a Satan. This broken theology feeds suspicion, a kind of misplaced "righteous" anger, and even martyrdom.
To simply ignore reality is no long term plan for dealing with it. This is, at its core, a theological issue. I'm more inclined to embrace the wonderful-terrible gifts of free will and a present participatory God of all being to work with other people in co-creating "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."