Give Unity a Chance

Everyone talking about
luther-isms
calvin-isms
catholi-cisms
prebytery-isms
evangelical-isms
alliance-isms
methodist-isms
mormon-isms

All we are saying is…give unity a chance

Everyone talking about
charismatic-isms
Baptist-isms
Wesley-isms
Emergent-isms
Unitarian-isms
Reformed-isms
Episcopal-isms
Pentecostal-isms

And all we are saying is…give unity a chance

Everyone talking about
Othodox-isms
Mennonite-isms
Gnostic-isms
Adventist-isms
Vineyard-isms
non-denomination-isms
Waldensian-isms
Quaker-isms

And all we are saying is…give unity a chance

Everying talking about
Yahweh-isms
Jehovah-isms
Christian-isms
Father-isms
Freedom-isms
Fellowship-isms
Brother-isms
Disciple-isms

And all we are saying…is give unity a chance

Everyone talking about
Scripture-isms
Faith-isms
Servant-isms
Icon-isms
Prayer-isms
Worship-isms
Tithe-isms
Proselyte-isms

And all we are saying is…give unity a chance

Everyone talking about
Everywhere-isms
Nowhere-isms
Somewhere-isms
Anywhere-isms
Returning-isms
Human-isms
Science-isms
Learning-isms

All I am saying is…is give unity a chance.

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Credibility: How do I know who is credible?

I have been wrestling with this issue for the past few days and figured I would throw it on a blog. Credibility within the Christian faith is becoming increasingly something I look at more intently, as if I would find answer to who is and why? What I have found is that credibility is something the church thinks they can decide as to ‘who speaks the truth within their faith’.

Being an outcast (of sorts) from within the Christian juggernaut (which consists of many a strand of denominations) I have come to see my own credibility (as a person that speaks for the faith)…it is close to non-existent. It’s not because I don’t have the background or study to so speak for the Christian faith, I only lack one thing…harmonizing with the denominational beliefs. I am so spooled as an outcast with no real way to speak into the very thing I claim, faith in Christ…at least until I hold some position within the juggernaut or rightly uphold their missions, visions, and laws (see any denominational church website for more on that). But I accept that and continue to strive for more clarity on the subject of credibility.

I see the church as something that designates itself and has lost some it’s ‘voice’ and in need of real accountability. They claim to be following the faith in it’s fullness and it lacks nothing…right from the way the church is set-up, worship, offerings, interpretation, and prayer. If you are within the structure in some position then you have the ‘say’ of what can be done, if you are a lowly peon like myself (a congregationalist not striving for more then that) then your ‘say’ is limited to the group of congregants you ‘hang with’. Top that off denominations cannot speak with other denominations and you get a ball of confusion with no end in sight (for clarity). Begging the obvious, if this denomination thinks it’s right and the other thinks it’s right (yet practicing varying beliefs)…which is credible?

They will tell you they gather all their beliefs from the bible and ‘thus and thus’ says the passage of scripture they base their beliefs on (or doctrinal statement)…but if you read any statement they take scripture from ‘here and there’ in a paste job for justification. To be honest, is that true to the intentions of the biblical writers? If we follow their pattern (paste job I call it) then I can justify anything I so choose and I have seen it done…slavery, tongues, war, and circumcision to name a few. I ask then, if they being credible do use the bible as a ‘paste job’ for justification, how is it if I read the whole book or letter (and find the context and intent) without using a quoted scripture have none? Simply put, I am not on the ‘A’ list of people within the faith nor do I use the bible as a scripture quoting machine.

In my questioning is the ‘rub’…call it credibility but it also leads to accountability. I suppose they my faith does not have it all together as they so seem. We have denominational splits and a church choice for every day of the week (which Paul was adamantly against saying there is one body not 100’s of them). These denominations rarely, if ever, work of the same page and discuss their beliefs as to what needs to be taught within their strands of faith (as in councils of Nicea and the early church fathers did to hash out their ideas), thusly they are not working together as much as they make it seem (not even in the same cities). No one calls into account people within their Christian faith that are giving it a ‘bad name’ or mis-using the scripture for what seems ‘evil’ ends (ex: gay-bashing). There are list upon list of such things and if I were to go into them all I would be writing to no end (wouldn’t have room for it all). But what I am saying is on the question of accountability is the church has no avenue within it for such questioning.

But my solution is simple and is one I live by, we have the right to question our respective churces on their practices if they do not follow the intentions of the biblical writers. I have come up against 2 in recent days and I will recite them here. (1) A certain church in my city is telling a person to stop taking prescription meds and psychiatric counselling since they are deemed ‘evil’ and not of the faith (this person has schizophrenia) and reveal a lack of trust in God. (2) A person within my city who claims ‘Christianity’ as his faith is going around passing out leaflets, posting things in the paper, wearing t-shirts, and picketing anything ‘gay’ as ‘doomed to hell’. He has been fined by the city $17,000 for his abuses but refuses to quit. He is not only an outright ‘gay-basher’ but claims this is from his biblical beliefs and has been ‘called’ to do this.

2 scenarios of many but they will suffice. Who holds these people and their teachings accountable to what is really taught in the Christian faith? Are they credible and who deems what they say as such? Problem is they are within the structure and have their haven in some denomination that see’s no problem with their actions. I see a problem in their actions and a strong rebuke is coming (if I ever get a chance to find out where they worship). You see even in my lack of credibility I still have enough sense to know these people are wrong in their interpretation. If a ‘gay person’ does not have the right to be treated as I am treated, then show me justification for such an action? As far as the church not allowing the schizophreniac the help he so deserved and offering teaching that triggers problems within him, I also have to step in and question their tactics. I know we live by faith but this is ridiculous. If he has does have ‘that kind of faith’ then we should do all the more to support someone who I consider of the ‘poor’ in society.

I am asking for accountability (and it stems from the church perspective – or credibility). If it is too much to ask then I will ask again and again until something is done. How can I, a person of the same faith, sit back and watch this game of incredulity go on? I can’t. It’s driving me and many others straight out of congregations in droves. Time we stood up and in these ‘non-profit’ organizations and offered some checks n balances. So if you give money, ask to see the books and how your money is spent…if you don’t like it request a change. If the teaching in your church is not quite right…step up and question the leadership about it…they are no more than designated leaders anyways…and request a change. Start programs that allow for your faith to be enacted in some way…if the leadership so disapprove…request a change in leadership (if the idea you hold is true to the faith). It’s a call for accountabilty and working together in this faith to stop the destruction from within.

I am reading the Qu’ran

I have recently started reading the Quran and the OT at the same time, well the Torah of the OT as it stands now. Fascinating reads the both of them and I would suggest if anyone reads tge Quran to read it aside the OT…it’s funny how the Quran picks from the Torah and Genesis a lot.

Why amI reading the Quran? I have the ability to do so and I want to know more about this religion and some of the motives behind it. Also I have a friend that is a Muslim and he gave me a free copy, I figure I’ll put it to good use.

I really have some reservations about the Quran at this point. I have read 5 chapters (Sura’s) in and some of things Mohammed is teaching is just right out there (from left field so to speak). I find the book more trying to convince me this is God (Allah) than any other type of scripture I have ever read. It also sends a lot of mixed messages from a reader’s standpoint. But I’ll mention some noteable things I have found.

1. Men are allowed to marry up to 4 wives (but not to treat one better than the other). Should I take exception to this…I know my wife would.

2. The divorce law is beyond weird. If a man leaves a woman then marries a 2nd time and divorces again, then the woman can come back to the man only when she has since divorced a 2nd time (a matter of equality). I have found this just doesn’t work on any level. Also divorce seems quite allowable for matters of small circumstances and the man takes 2/3 of the property.

3. Those who fight on behalf of Allah have a greater reward (higher position) in the garden compared to those who do not fight (although they still get to the garden). At one point Allah mentions that we may not like something that is good for us…in reference to fighting. However, if you can somehow forgive and let people off from their penalty then you are also considered great. So fighting is good and fighting is not good?

4. The Quran borrows tonnes from the OT in regards to laws…food laws, who you can marry, etc. They also use Abraham as their guidepost in faith (as ther father of the Muslim faith) and add Ishmael onto the old saying ‘Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. The book wavers on if the Jew can be a friend or not and comes close to calling them the enemy at points (for their lack of faith in Allah) but it never crosses that line (as of 5 chapters anyways).

5. The Christians are in the same boat as the Jewish faith, in that we haven’t accpeted Allah. We seem to stand on better moral ground are even called ‘their best friends’ at times. However, Mohammed again wavers on this and considers us non-believers like the rest (apparently in those days we must have accepted them more readily). To Mohammed we committ the most grievous of sins (detestable and worthy of punishment)…we allow there to be more than 1 God in joining Jesus to what we refer as the ‘Trinity’ (actually mentioned in the Quran). This is unforgiveable (mentioned a few times as the worst sin).

6. At the very beginning of chapter 2, as proof of the validity of this book being from God, there is challenge to write a better Sura (scripture) than the one’s you will read…it then goes onto say this is impossible. However, I think I may be able to at least match Mohammed’s ability and I still find the writings of the disciples a lot better than that of Mohammed’s.

7. Everything that is written is always followed by ’cause Allah is such n such’. Who can argue with that? I find this the same as a Christian saying ‘because God told me so’…to which you cannot argue. So basically the book sets itself up so that you cannot argue against it or you argue against God and this is damnable (who wants to be arguing with what God said?). This is what I mean by trying to ‘lead the reader’ into something in which they have no voice.

8. The people that were once believers and followers of Allah seem to be a hated sort…the Muslim has the right to kill that person wherever he should find him…likely because he backed out of fighting on Allah’s behalf and watched his former brothers die in battle. Note to self, if you ever do convert you are stuck.

I am only 5 chapters in thus far and those are some of the questions I have found. But if you want my personal opinion, since I am well read in the OT & NT, I think Mohammed was quite familiar with the Jewish Torah and the early disputes amongst Christians and Jewish people, namely on the validity of their scriptures. He must of saw how in-cohesive they were towards one another and built arguments upon that. He also must of felt a great urge to call his own people into account based on what he knew about the OT and NT…for unity purposes and to offer a better way than what they had (which he calls ‘pagan’).

I really feel for the guy since he just wanted a better life for his people and on that I can’t knock his intentions. There are a lot of good morals being taught within the book (as with all scripture) and the idea’s of charity and forgiveness rank high as virtues of Allah (Allah is oft-forgiving and oft-Merciful…mentioned around 50 times thus far). So I think it is a great read and something to do if you want to understand some of the idea’s behind the 2nd biggest religion in the world. It is really helping me to understand my brother (who is a Muslim), although I may have reservations about some of the teachings, and to step on an even playing field with him. I am not reading to condemn him but to uplift him. Even if I should find myself condemned in the Quran, love is greater than that and mercy is a good reminder of the human condition. So…what do you think of this?