Why Did They Do It? Crosswalk America Revisited
20 September 2006: Start the discussion! »
In early September, I looked out from the pulpit of the historic Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., preparing to address a group of foot-weary people who had just completed a twenty-five hundred mile, five million-step walk across America. I admired their energy and their dedication. I was in awe of their willingness to …
Question & Answer
To start the question and answer feature of this column this week I want to
share with you the words from a bulletin defining the way the members of the
Unity Church of Wichita, Kansas see themselves: "We are a Bible based Church
for thinking people. We are culturally Christian, radically inclusive, and
spiritually unlimited." Occasionally some one gets it right.
Another church announced on its sign: "God is our refuse and our strength:"
I hope not! JSS
Chaplain Joy Smith writes:
In your opinion, what bottom-line factor best distinguishes
Christianity from other world religions? Am I right in believing the
"Golden Rule" and the message of loving God and loving others are both
present in all world religions (although worded differently, of course)?
Dear Chaplain Joy,
The task of every religion is to answer life's perennial and
existential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What does life mean?
What is my destiny? Because those are questions only asked by fully
self-conscious creatures, religion is a specifically human enterprise. In
the broadest sense I don't believe it is possible to be human and not be
inquisitive about life's meaning, and therefore not in some sense religious.
I suppose practitioners of every faith tradition can tell you
what is unique about their own spiritual journey. When you compare your
religion with one you do not practice, it is hard not to be pejorative about
one that is not your own. So I think you would be well served to ask Jews,
Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus as well as Christians to talk about what
distinguishes their faith. Even when you talk to Christians, you will get
Roman Catholic, Protestant, liberal, fundamentalist, evangelical ideas that
will hardly be identical.
Having said that, the thing that distinguishes the Christian
community to me is the Jesus story of a life fully lived for others, a love
wastefully shared with others and a picture of one who has the courage to be
all that he was created to be.
His life expands my life. His love frees me to love and his
being gives me the courage to be. That is why I join in the central
Christian affirmation of seeing God in the full humanity of Jesus.
John Shelby Spong
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