Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Growing together doesn't mean agreeing on everything

"Listen close to what men say
Take what you want
And throw the rest away"

Adam Ant - "Here Comes the Grump"
There are a whole variety of people in my life who would want me to believe a whole variety of different things. For starters, I was raised in the very liberal (politically and theologically) denomination known as the United Church of Christ (U.C.C.). When I was older, I was exposed to a lot of teaching in a more conservative evangelical/pentecostal church. I've also sat down with visitors to my door who would share their own particular beliefs with me, and I with them.

In more recent years (the past 18-19 years), I've purposely exposed myself to what I'll simply call "grace teachings" that I believe are rooted in biblical truth.  About 13 years ago I was also exposed to those who wanted to share their universalist beliefs with me, and I spent several years discussing/debating it with them (long before all the current FB debates). Even more recently, others in my worldwide circle of friends and acquaintances have begun teaching what is commonly known as Trinitarianism.  I've spent a lot of time looking into these various beliefs. I've discussed and debated with people, and it's led me into my own in-depth studying of those issues.   I've learned a lot - and I've grown a lot - through all of the discussions and my own personal study.

So do I now believe everything that has come my way?  Of course not!  While, for example, I most certainly appreciate - and have even grown in knowledge and understanding from - some of the biblical issues and ideas that are brought out in Trinitarian (and sometimes universalism) teachings, I can tell you that overall it's theologically not my cup of tea.  And regarding the U.C.C. that I grew up in, I've had many conversations over the years with my mom (who is a retired U.C.C. pastor, as is my dad).  It's clear that we're worlds apart in some of our beliefs, but yet both of us would agree that we've each grown tremendously - with me in my 40's and my mom about to turn 80.  We haven't grown in the same ways - and I'm sure each of us wishes the other would see certain things differently - but we can truly see growth in each other and we most certainly don't accuse each other of heresy or blasphemy just because we don't believe all the same thing.

I see so much debating and arguing these days.  You know, it's great to stand for what you believe in.  Along with this, healthy arguing (exchanging of thoughts and ideas) can be a really good thing.  But yet there's so much name calling and blaming and belittling of others who aren't "growing" in the same ways. It's such a huge turnoff to me, and I don't see what good it's doing anyone.

So here's what I'm leading up to.  Share what you believe.  Listen to others.  Study for yourself.  Be free to grow at your own pace, and let others grow at their own pace, even if they never come around to your views.  Please don't belittle or demean others who don't see things your way.  Their God might be in a box - but so is yours.

Most importantly, all of our doctrines and beliefs are nothing if we don't have love.  You may as well stuff your pet doctrines in a bag and send them off to hell, if you're not going to love even those who disagree with you!


  1. 100% AGREE, 1 cOR 13:4-13,Taught that we can't do 1 cor 13:4-13, using that we are of the flesh in unredeemed bodies, so we still sin.

    My response tiday is yes as of flesh that is truth, so recieve the born again life this is where God's type of Love is recieved ans we don't perform it God does through via the Holy Ghost.
    Taking a differant look at 1 cor 13:4-13 and all else passes away except God and God is Love and we are by God made aright with God by Christ. My two cents that fills all Law.

  2. "Growing together doesn't mean agreeing on everything"

    I disagree!

    J/K :)

    I have seen diagreements over trival matters of doctrine get rather heated. When people have disagreements over things that one or the other thinks isn't even open to debate it can get ugly. It's a shame really. Because each us is on our own journey. Joe Blow may decide he is drawn to walk down the path of universalism. His path may merge back with your path or it may not. I think it is a mistake to count this brother as being lost. We should love him just the same and not turn our back on him...even if he refuses to climb back in our box.

  3. Howard, indeed it is good to look at 1 Cor 13 through a different lens. God is love, and all of those things in 1 Cor 13 represent God, and are indeed fulfilled in us through the Holy Spirit.

    Gary, yeah, it's such a shame to see trivial matters become such large matters that divide people in such huge ways. So many of those things are simply not worth the division that comes, just because, really, people feel the need to be "right." So many times we just need to let go.

    On larger issues, such as universalism (to me, it is a large issue), I personally think it's worth discussing and debating, and even being "divided" over the issue (doctrinally speaking), but at the same time I don't believe that that means anyone needs to resort to name-calling and accusations.

    The thought process for this particular post came about because I've seen people call a certain belief of mine "blasphemous," and it's something that they themselves used to teach. I 'get' that they've changed their beliefs about things, but they also imply that when other people don't "move forward" in the same ways that they have, then those people are closed-minded and unwilling to learn and grow. That's absolutely not the case. I am learning and growing... exponentially at times... but just not in the way that they think I should.

  4. You're right Joel, all of our doctrines are a "clanging bell" without love.