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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Monday, August 23 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Open-mindedness, 3

After missing my Friday deadline because my computer was "in the hospital," I'm taking up the rest of the letter being discussed last week (see last Monday's and Wednesday's Jonals if you'd like to recap). At the end of his letter, my correspondent changed his criticism of the close-mindedness of the Christians he knows toward members of other religions and teachers of evolution, to similarly close-minded attitudes toward Christians of other denominations and communions. He concluded:

Putting aside the idea of being open minded toward other religions, we Christians have yet to open our minds to other Christians. For instance, my wife changed from the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant Church when we got married. Although her family doesn't say so to my face, they believe I have led her down the path to perdition. She has told me that she was taught in Catechism that she would go to hell if she entered a Protestant church. By the same token, within the past year, I heard a Baptist minister declare that the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Not too long ago, I heard a Protestant minister refer to the Roman Catholic faith as a sect rather than a fellow Christian religion. My own WASP forbears were so anti-catholic that they joined the Ku Klux Klan. To tell the truth, there are a lot of Christians I wouldn't want to pack my parachute for fear it wouldn't open.

I can't deny that such attitudes still exist. And my saying that they are sub-Christian probably sounds trite, facile, even begging the question. Yet I believe that there's not much more you can say and that you must say it ("such attitudes are themselves unChristian") every chance you get.

There are so-called Christians out there who have an even lower view of Christ and the Bible than non-Christian sects like Christian Science, Mormon, and Jehovah's Witnesses, none of which believe Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, cosubstantial and coeternal with Him, true God from true God, as the creed puts it. For example, many Eastertimes the British press publishes the results of the latest poll of Church of England clergy members, and consistently find that about two-thirds of them say they can't truly believe in the resurrection. To such "clergy" and "Christians" I believe it's not only permissible, biblically, to expose the error and oppose it, but beyond having "permission," there's an obligation to do so. But even in that opposition, and that of our Christian Science, Mormon, and Jehovah's Witness neighbors and others, we must still "truth in love," to resort to an Old English use of "truth" as a verb to make my point. The love must always be the foundation of any opposition: Love of the truth; love of those being misled by untruths, and even love for the bearers of untruth who, as fellow bearers of the image of God, probably in all sincerity are convinced they're doing the best they can. There are also wolves in sheep's clothing, the New Testament warns, people who know they're lying and trying to mislead innocent followers, but if in doubt, err on the side of love anyway.

But none of the traditional churches of Christendom—Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox—deny any of the creedal fundamentals, and to carp over the minor points that divide us when Christ's fervent prayer is "that we shall be one" is schismatic (widening the ruptures that already exist), and being schismatic has always been condemned as heresy. Those who make the kinds of charges described in the quotation above are "pots who are calling the kettle black," to use an old Pennsylvanian figure of speech. And as an aside, both the Catholics described in the paragraph quoted above, and Protestants who have an equally negative attitude back toward them, should actually read the recently revised Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church, which takes up this and thousands of additional topics that are still being fought over though the "war" has long since past.

As for children who convert, I am (though a convert from evangelical Protestant to Eastern Orthodox myself) sympathetic to parents who feel betrayed. It's understandable if they feel that the thing they most wanted to pass on to their child has been cast aside, as is often the case. I've even heard of a Southern Baptist father who could hardly forgive his daughter for the "offense" of marrying a member of an Independent Baptist congregation (I guess you have to be Southern to understand this)!

But in the end, we can't second-guess our children or anyone else for the spiritual path he or she chooses. The first thing we must do in such cases is try to understand, by being open to reading literature about the other church or communion, and discussing it freely with the other member of the family if he or she is open to such discussion. It must be done nonjudgmentally, and beyond that if you're still not convinced it was a grave mistake, you must leave it to prayer for both the loved one and yourself, that God will be honored and that His glory is what is sought, not personal pride or sense of "ownership" or "priority" in that person's life. And whatever you do, do not try to manipulate your loved one to coming to your position or try to "get even" by ostracizing the spouse you may feel is "responsible" for the conversion.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Foreign approach

People in other countries sometimes go out of their way to communicate with their English-speaking tourists. Here is a collection of signs seen around the world.

A sign seen on an automatic restroom hand dryer: DO NOT ACTIVATE WITH WET HANDS.

In a Pumwani maternity ward: NO CHILDREN ALLOWED.

Sent by Mike Harris  

Thought for today

If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky  
Russian novelist, 1821-1881  

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