When someone asks me what I believe I don’t answer that I’m a Lutheran, a Catholic, a Presbyterian or a Brethren.
I say I’m a Christian.
Faith in Christ, desire for a closer relationship with God, and the desire to do God’s will, these are pretty fundamental concepts of Christianity, and yet we Christians seem to have a lot of different ideas about how we’re supposed to do God’s will and live our lives.
I think any faith or religion has instances where you want to say “I’m not with those guys”, the Westboro Baptist Church for example, but we divide ourselves in so many other ways. We call them denominations, like denominator, the bottom part of a fraction. We take the whole and make it smaller, fractured, and separate. There’s one Bible, but there are dozens, hundreds of ways to interpret it, to live its principles out, and only one of them is right, or at least best.
I understand the desire to gather together as Christians. It’s one of the things God calls us to do, to sharpen our own faith and to hold others accountable. There’s also a joy in being in a community of people who care about the things you do (even outside of church it’s great to find other writers, programmers, etc).
But strong denominational doctrines send the wrong message both to Christians and to people outside the faith. Most people who look at Christians don’t see those divisions and will lump them all into one pot, just like we do with Muslims or other religions. But the thing is, we should be acting more like a unified whole.
I grew up in a denominational church, but my faith was really born through non-denominational groups like Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, both before and while I was a student. Staff and students in IVCF run the gambit in terms of denominations, but they choose to worship, and to study the Bible deeply and together.
Christ is the right path, and denominational churches for the most part seem to be headed in that direction. I’m just not always a fan of the detours.
3 responses to “What Divides Us”
I am Irish Roman Catholic. No surprise there. However I am having a huge crisis of faith not just in the Catholic Church but in all organised religion. All I can see are people using faith as a tool to have power over other people. There are good people in all faiths but we have allowed those who feed off power to go unchecked. I suppose I am very disappointed in humanity at the moment. So many people in Ireland are really struggling to put food on the table (and we are supposed to be a first world country.?) while the others in the population turn their face away lest they be asked to help. Sorry for the rant.
No problem. Frankly I didn’t really know about Ireland’s struggles. It’s good to hear an outside perspective. I definitely think there are influences in the church that care about helping those in need, but sometimes those are put by the wayside by the things that divide us. I also can’t say I’m terribly pleased with the way religion has married itself to politics in our nation either, but that’s a whole other post. Hope things are well with you, and I’ll be praying for you during your crisis.