NewsSeekers Class Week Four Review

We often talk about the history of Christianity as if Christianity is one thing. Anything that doesn’t cohere to our vision of what that history means, becomes not Christian. However, Christianity is a big tent religion, and what Christianity is, has meant many different things – depending on the geography, time frame, and circumstances. I wonder if it might be more helpful to talk about the histories of various different Christianities.

Excerpt from a sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win” Defending Liberal Protestantism in the 1920s in reaction to a movement that tried to define Christianity in a narrow sense. As you read this, ask yourselves how we define Christianity in a narrow sense and what that robs us of?

“The first element that is necessary is a spirit of tolerance and Christian liberty. When will the world learn that intolerance solves no problems? This is not a lesson which the Fundamentalists alone need to learn; the liberals also need to learn it. Speaking, as I do, from the viewpoint of liberal opinions, let me say that if some young, fresh mind here this morning is holding new ideas, has fought his way through, it may be by intellectual and spiritual struggle, to novel positions, and is tempted to be intolerant about old opinions, offensively to condescend to those who hold them and to be harsh in judgment on them, he may well remember that people who held those old opinions have given the world some of the noblest character and the most rememberable service that it ever has been blessed with, and that we of the younger generation will prove our case best, not by controversial intolerance, but by producing, with our new opinions, something of the depth and strength, nobility and beauty of character that in other times were associated with other thoughts. It was a wise liberal, the most adventurous man of his day—Paul the Apostle—who said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up.” Nevertheless, it is true that just now the Fundamentalists are giving us one of the worst exhibitions of bitter intolerance that the churches of this country have ever seen. As one watches them and listens to them he remembers the remark of General Armstrong of Hampton Institute, “Cantankerousness is worse than heterodoxy.” There are many opinions in the field of modern controversy concerning which I am not sure whether they are right or wrong, but there is one thing I am sure of: courtesy and kindliness and tolerance and humility and fairness are right. Opinions may be mistaken; love never is.”

Given the history and tragedy of abuse in the Christian church, including abuse of children and Christian religious discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ folks, how am I still able to trust in God, participate in church life, and embrace my Christian identity?

How might I more fully embody a counter-cultural faith in light of rising Christian nationalism, and the worship of power over love?

Many of us are systematically dissecting and often rejecting the beliefs we grew up with and finding a more mysterious, open-hearted, wide-awake faith. Is that experience sufficient or lacking in terms of discovering purpose?

Spiritual Practices

  1. Consider sharing an expression of your faith in worship on April 7. Begin imagining and creating what you might share and in what format.
  2. As you move through your week, in your thoughts, practice identifying yourself as Christian. You might ask yourself what would addressing this moment as a Christain mean for me right now.
  3. Affirm the wisdom found in other faith traditions while remaining rooted and grounded in the Way of Jesus. Drop by our fellowship hall to witness the creation of a sand mandala by Buddhist monks here at CUCC! Anytime from 10AM-3PM, Thursday-Saturday, March 14-16, and attend the closing ceremony on Saturday at 3. See what meaning this spiritual practice has to offer your faith life.
  4. Ask to go with a friend of another faith tradition to a worship service or faith-based gathering. Or you might share coffee or lunch and allow yourself to be curious and to ask questions about their faith.

Closing
THIS IS MY SONG (Jan Sibelius – 1899 / Wds Lloyd Stone – 1934)

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is,
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.