Posted by: pendrops | June 27, 2006

a lovely mystery

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“Revealing and Terrifying God, whose very revelation is mystery, forgive our frightened attempts to possess you. Theology has become our way to try to be in control, dear God, even of you. We ask for the humility that comes from the unavoidable recognition that you insist on our being your people. What an extraordinary thing. Amen.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken

The first time I experienced a denomination war was when I went to college. I went to a Christian college, a Baptist General Conference college to be exact. And, unknowingly, I stepped into the crossfire between a bunch of fanatical Armenians and radical Calvinists.

I hesitantly sided with the Calvinists, agreeing more with those who said that I couldn’t lose my salvation than those who said I could. (I reasoned that if I couldn’t save myself, I couldn’t unsave myself…and I knew I was saved.) So I learned a bit about T.U.L.I.P., went to John Piper’s church, and did my best to spout Calvin’s rhetoric.

The semester I joined the Calvinists, I also visited a Lutheran church and accidentally took wine for communion instead of grape juice. It was also the same semester I worked on the student paper with a guy who bravely converted from a Baptist to a Catholic.

I was confused.

But nothing would confuse me more than moving from the Midwest to the MidSouth and becoming a member at a Southern Baptist church. Staunch, long faces crowded the sanctuary, people walked to the front to become members, and church rolls overflowed with names of people who had not attended Sunday school in nearly a decade. I’d never seen anything like it.

I didn’t stay there long, but returned to the world of non-denominationalism – a Bible church. Thank God for the American non-denom Bible church. I had settled back in, removed from the divisions and superiority, and started to see a little more clearly.

Then I went to work for a Christian company. Re-enter confusion. In the two years I’ve worked there, I’ve been subjected to every idiodic joke about everyone from Nazarenes to Baptists to Church of Christ-ers. And, frankly, I became bitter about it all. The arrogance. The assumptions. The striving. The division.

I didn’t stay bitter long though. With the lingering din of human voices, I began to explore what God says. And under all the tenets and legalistic drivel, I unearthed truth. So, for what it’s worth, here’s the short list of what I believe:

I believe God is God.
I believe Jesus is God.
I believe the Holy Spirit is God.
I believe in the Trinity.
I believe what the Bible says.
I believe Jesus loves me.
I believe Jesus died and rose again.
I believe in faith, hope, love, mercy, grace, and peace.
I believe musical instruments are a pleasure.
I believe in dancing every chance I get.
I believe wine is delicious.
I believe raising hands in worship is appropriate.
I believe holy visions are real.
I believe God still does mind-boggling miracles.
I believe.

So what does that make me? Not Baptist. Not Presbyterian. Not Catholic. Not Episcopal. Not Charismatic. Not Lutheran. Not Armenian. Not right. Not wrong.

It just makes me a believer. A believer in the God of the universe who is, in fact, a mystery we will never figure out with our limited theology and finite minds. That’s what I believe…and knowing that He is, is enough for me.

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Responses

  1. A big resounding Amen. That is the belief that is in my heart but words are not always my specialty. You express it so much better than I ever could. It is a pleasure reading your words. You give them life.
    Good luck and God Bless!
    Lisa (and Jeff too)


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