Living on the Edge ... and again
Well, I was going to continue with living on the edge of Christianity, but this email conversation crossed my Inbox, and it is a good interlude in this discussion, and touches on living away from the edge! Geraldine (a friend) has come (by her own admission Rom 10:9) to love Jesus profoundly, but balks at the jargon term 'born again'. (Names and places changed) As always, please write. Mordecai
Hi! I was recently listening to John ___ and my mom asked politely, "oh, is he an Evangelical Christian?" She has kind of just assumed that I am totally born again and it is just kind of accepted now, even though that is an exaggeration! And my neighbors have turned out to be the most judgmental of all! -- Geraldine
Hi Geraldine: Well, you know my take on 'born again.' The term has been abused. It means a spiritual awakening and redirection towards Christ, and in that light I am most definitely...'born again.' As I look at you Geraldine, well, you're free to react against the caricature, but now you've come to Jesus and, like it or not, that makes you ... born again!! Your mom (understandably) reacts to the Christian setup where many terms have assumed meanings and no longer mean what, by definition, they actually mean.
So the term 'evangelical' in some circles means 'right wing fundamentalist Christian', when in fact theologically the term means – “We regard the scriptures as authoritative for faith and for life.” So in that sense I am most definitely 'evangelical' as well. The next problem term is 'charismatic' – which has come to mean 'chaotic loony', when in fact what it means is a profound joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit and a belief that his ministry is for all time...So, yes I am very charismatic too.
I've just finished a once off a teaching that focused on the fact that 'to be charismatic' is not a 'no brainer', and the same Paul who said we should pray in the spirit also said we must be transformed by the 'renewing of our minds.' It's “both and”, not “either or.”
If you want to read a really good book, get Richard Foster's 'Streams of living Waters.' He makes the claim that we have made our faith anemic by setting tight boundaries around our own traditions and saying in effect; 'we are the ones who have got it right', when in fact, early evangelicalism drew the best from all the Christian traditions. Movements seldom end up as what they start out to be, as I'm sure you well know. And so, in our walk with Jesus we should take the best from the Evangelical, Charismatic, Contemplative, social Justice, Incarnational (very Anglican) and Holiness traditions and live them. In this case it's not one or the other, but the best of all that is regarded as Christian. It's an immensely rich heritage...and we've sometimes made our faith poorer for not respecting Christian traditions other than our own...
Jesus came because 'God so loved the...WORLD, not the church...' and all humans are created imago dei, not just Christians. i.e. all humans are image bearers. It is the infilling of the Holy Spirit which is exclusive Christian domain (although you wouldn't always say so...) We ought to value all human life and show love to the radical Islamist, as much as to our born again neighbour. Blessings, Fred.
 Imust disassociate myself from this “interesting” grammar … it’s not me … I went to school. Mordi