Friday, April 22, 2011

Becoming Un-Boxed

So there was a Priest, a Rabbi, and an Agnostic on the Morning Joe Fox News program this morning. They were addressing the subject of the existence of God in conjunction the coming Easter holiday.   It was interesting to see the misunderstanding each held of the belief system of the other groups.  It is one thing to disagree, but it is another to disagree with something the other does not even believe.  It seemed the Agnostic had much more to say against other perspectives, whereas the Priest and Rabbi mostly talked about their own views. 

I review a great many articles on-line and I often see Christians misrepresenting Atheism and Agnosticism as well as Atheists and Agnostics misrepresenting Christians or religion in general. I don’t think this is done intentionally, but ignorantly.

Moreover, it is seldom true that any one person fully embodies a particular box of that belief system and yet we greatly desire to fit them into an understandable concise mold. Definitions by their very nature are exclusive and confined. When applied to a thing, a definition can be quiet accurate, but when applied to a person it is unlikely it could be thus. Describing the beliefs of a person or a group of people is probably more appropriate than defining it as a closed system.

People often ask my husband and I what denomination we are, or what group of Christianity do we call our own, or what model does our church follow as far as church structure.  We find humor in the questions because it tells us much about the questioner.  What is being asked is “what box can I put you in?” 

My story does not lend itself to a box. I grew up in a Southern Baptist charismatic church that was affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and often did joint events with Catholics and Methodists as well as other groups. I am now in a church that is not non-denominational or denominational, but relationally joined with an international ministry. We have no model, but endeavor to hear God and follow Him. 

I enjoy looking for truth in systems of belief others would dismiss as all wrong. I don’t think it possible for any belief to be 100% wrong.  I also think that the truth ensconced in an unorthodox package can be a rare gem at times and would have been missed if the package became a deterrent. 

I am not advocating pluralism or anything of that nature. It’s just that our differences do not need to define us and divide us into a box. Nor do our agreements need to be the basis of alignment. Instead our love for the truth and our love for one another should be what unite us regardless of our differences. We do not need to shed our differences or enter an understandable box in order to find camaraderie.

Moreover truth is not something that brings a confined sameness, but a unity in diversity. I can look at something from one perspective without ignoring the value of a multiplicity of perspectives. Not because two opposite perspectives can be equally true, but because my perspective, where true, is only a part of the whole. I need the other parts so that I can shed what is false and find greater truth in the unity of other perspectives.  If each of us do that we all move closer together to what is real and further away from what is false.