Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Way to be Christian

My friends who are Buddhists, Humanists, Scientists, Agnostics, Atheists, and "Spiritual but Not Religious" often marvel that I am a Christian minister. I am other things as well, but my primary role in my community is that of a Christian minister. Now, to be sure, my approach to Christianity is more liberal and far less dogmatic than some; and I absolutely reject the notion that Christianity is in any way superior to other religions or that Christians are in any way superior to non-religious people. I am by tradition, education, and profession a Christian and I have great respect and high regard for people who practice other religious traditions and for people who have abandoned organized religion entirely. I have no interest in converting anyone, of claiming absolute authority for my scriptures (or anyone else's), or in suggesting that one must hold certain opinions in order to have post-mortem access to a Cosmic Realm of ease and bliss.
I guess that's why my non-Christian friends are amazed...the Christianity they reject makes the arrogant and unprovable claim that it somehow owns spiritual truth and that its members have easier (and perhaps exclusive) access to the Creative Impulse many of us call "God." The truth is, I reject that definition of Christianity as well. My ministry, that is, the way that I try to offer hope and encouragement to people is within the evolving and expanding Christian tradition. For this reason, I am Christian. Buddhists, Jews, 12 Steppers, Humanists, Wiccans...they are offering hope within those frameworks. There is enough need for hope in the world that we can all play our part by whatever names we choose.
I do not want to change the constitution to reflect the bible. I do not oppose a woman's right to govern her own body. I am a gay man and I work for the full inclusion of Gay and Lesbian people in our society. I do not believe that Christians have an afterlife advantage over non-Christians. I do not believe that the purpose of religion is to make after-life promises at all. And I do not feel the need to have anyone convert to my faith tradition unless they believe doing so would somehow contribute to their own happiness and well-being. And yet, I am a Christian minister.
Maybe the day will come when the labels we choose no longer divide us...maybe we'll see less reason to adopt the labels in the first place. Maybe as Christians like me "come out" as Christians who are not trying to convert or control the world, but who are rather just trying to be good citizens of the world, non-Christians will start to see Christians in a more positive light. Until then, I continue to share my witness of a spirituality that is broader than any name one might apply to it.

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