So, I feel like I don’t write on my blog often enough, especially considering my passion for Christian unity and wanting to build an online community of Christians from all backgrounds who can encourage each other and really demonstrate that we can truly be one body and one faith, despite our theological differences. So here’s what I’m thinking as I write a post today that may not be as focused as previous ones – I need to write about a wider variety of topics. If I only write posts that preach about unity, it gets boring. I want to try moving beyond that and actually discuss our beliefs and traditions in a judgement-free space.
I think the reason it’s been hard to move beyond explaining why unity between denominations makes so much sense, is that I’ve always hated the idea of trying to discuss theology with people on a blog about unity and have people miss the unity part and just make hateful and judgemental comments like they do all over the internet. I want this blog to be different. I want people to feel free to comment and talk about ideas different from my own without telling me that mine are wrong or telling others who have commented that their ideas are wrong. It seems so rare that people understand the possibility and the benefit of “Yes, that’s interesting… and that reminds me of something we believe and practice in my tradition…” instead of “Ok, but that doesn’t sound right because in my tradition we believe this…”
After this post I will try to do some posts that focus on various topics within our faith, especially with a holiday as important as Easter coming up. But let me just give you an example of two different ways of discussing theology and church traditions to demonstrate the kind of discussion I’m encouraging on this blog.
Zane’s post on Prayer:
I’ve found it very interesting as a fairly new Catholic to learn about the tradition of using icons in our prayer lives and why it is that we use them. Coming from an evangelical background, I know that there are a lot of misconceptions about icons. The idea I’m getting from learning about them recently is that they help provide a focus in prayer. When we are looking at an icon it is supposed to represent a person or event but in a deeper way than a piece of art. It is supposed to, in our minds, actually become the person or event so it has a greater impact on us as we pray. I’ve found this to work really well for me in my own prayer life…. etc etc…
“There is nothing taught in the Bible about using icons in your prayer life. The Bible does say not to worship idols and all you Catholics are doing exactly that – worshipping idols instead of God. Evil, evil, devil worshippers, I’m better than you, blah blah blah…”
– Christian Superior
“I’ll keep it brief even though there is a lot to say about comments like that… but idols and icons are different. The golden calf was an idol. A picture of Jesus is certainly something different. If you say I pray to a piece of paper or a piece of wood and I say I pray to God with that paper or wood in front of me, we’re just splitting hairs. It’s really not likely that anyone thinks an icon of Jesus is actually Jesus Himself. And what matters in my prayer life is where my heart is – and thankfully that’s something God knows. We serve a loving God who isn’t going to strike me down for having icons in my house and for praying in my own unique way. I think He appreciates my desire to pray.”
“I’ve never really understood icons before but I can see how it could be helpful if that’s a tradition you connect with. It got me thinking about my own prayer life and what’s helpful for me and I wanted to share….
I attend a church that’s very focused on spiritual gifts, like prophetic gifting and that sort of thing. I believe that God will speak to every single one of us in different ways, if we believe it and we’re open to seeing and hearing. So at home I like to take some time to listen before and after I pray. I sit or lay down and just open myself up to God’s presence and what He might want to say. Sometimes I write down what I’m feeling and some of those things have been really useful….”
– Faith Lovegood
“That’s such a great idea. I’ve heard a lot about the whole idea of ‘being still’ and listening to God. I’ve even tried practicing that before. It also got me thinking about how I’ve even learned things away from the church that have been useful in my Christian faith as well. I used to be really into Eastern religions and learned a lot about meditation. It’s not something that’s easy to practice but because meditation is used by people in so many traditions around the world there is a lot of great information out there about how to keep from being distracted, how to maintain a regular meditation practice, etc…. and so many of those things can really benefit us when we use them in our time with God…”
And the conversation could continue…
This is my dream, not just for my blog but for Christians all over the world, in any denomination. My dream is to see more of us encouraging each other and sharing ideas rather than tearing each other down and trying to show who belongs to the true church. Only God knows for sure who’s a real Christian – and I bet there are plenty in every denomination.