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.