It’s been a while since I blogged, but I found an old draft, never completed, and dusted it off.
Back in my Calvinist days, and when I had a child of school-age, I thought how wonderful it would be for there to be an ecumenical Christian high school in town as we had some hesitancy about sending our son to a Catholic High School (particularly since the local Catholic High School had a reputation for binge drinking with parental connivance).
Even apart from the existence of that Catholic High School, I had no idea how impossible or unacceptably minimalist the Christian standards of such a high school would be if it attempted to take in every Christian tradition (with or without Roman Catholicism). Even excluding merely cultural Christians, there’s not much in common.
Here’s a playful stab at the statement of beliefs:
- Human life began better than it is now. Human disobedience is what made things worse. Go ask your respective clergy whether “better” and “worse” are predominately moral, mortal, ontological or something else.
- There followed maybe four millennia, maybe more. A people called Jews emerged and were called God’s chosen people. Go ask your respective clergy what continuing relevance they have, if any, to the Christian story.
- There was a man, who also was God, named Jesus, who came from the Jews to fix our problem. Go ask your respective clergy how His coming had something to do with saving us from our problem.
- Jesus’ mother was a virgin. Go ask your respective clergy whether she remained a virgin or whether that would be creepy and subversive of the sexiness we so dearly love.
- Without having sinned or committed any capital offense, Jesus nevertheless was crucified some 2000 years ago. We all agree that this was very important, but we can’t entirely agree why. Go ask your respective clergy what Jesus’ crucifixion has to do with saving us from our problem.
- Early Sunday after His Crucifixion, this Jesus came back to life, not just a little but totally.We all agree that this was very important. It foreshadows that we won’t stay dead forever, at least if we’re Christians. Go ask your respective clergy whether, beyond that foreshadowing, that just proved Jesus really was God or whether it had something more to do with saving us from our problem.
- 40 days later, Jesus left us in something called Ascension in churches that care about things like that. Go ask your respective clergy whether that’s important in saving us from our problem. Extra credit: Ask your clergy why you don’t commemorate it if it’s important but you don’t commemorate it.
- After he went away, somebody sent something or someone called the Holy Spirit. Go ask your respective clergy whether it was God the Father from whom He/it proceeded or whether it was from both from the Father and the Son.
- While we’re on this Father and Son and Holy Spirit business, go ask your respective clergy to explain the Trinity to you. Watch this video first and you can have fun playing “Name That Heresy” with most clergy.
- After that the Church grew. Go ask your respective clergy whether it grew on the basis of the Old Testament, the teaching of the Apostles (written and oral), the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament that hadn’t been written yet, none of the above, all of the above, or what?
- The early Church worshiped rather formally as did the Jews of the Synagogue. Or they sat around on the floor, strumming harps and spontaneously bursting into choruses like Kum-Ba-Ya or “Our God is an Awesome God” in Aeolian mode and Aramaic language. Go ask your respective clergy how the early church worshiped.
- The Church had and has somewhere between one and seven or more ordinances, sacraments, mysteries, or whatever you call them. Go ask your respective clergy how many, what you call them, why that particular number.
- The Church soon had or didn’t have Bishops and a structure that extended beyond individual congregations. Go ask your respective clergy how the early Church was governed.
- One becomes a “Christian” (an encomium) by asking Jesus into his or her heart. Or one becomes a “Christian” (a fact that has little or nothing to do with being nice and middle class or even acting like a Christian) by baptism. Yeah, go ask your Clergy. Sheesh!
- Around the time of Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, God dropped the ball, the Church got seduced by secular power, and nothing more good happened until Martin Luther. Or there were always true Christians, who basically were Baptists, but history and fake Christians have suppressed that fact. Or the Church was one and not corrupt until the Bishop of Rome started putting on airs and eventually tore the Church. Or the Church was one and not corrupt until the other four Patriarchs decided to rebel against the Pope in Rome, who everybody knew was the penultimate boss of the whole Church (second only to Christ, whose vicar the Pope was), and thus those rebellious Patriarchs eventually tore the Church. Or something. Go ask your respective clergy.
- Someday, Jesus is coming back one or more times. Go ask your respective clergy why He’s coming back and whether He’s coming back once, twice, or multiple times, and whether any of those will be a secret (except for the tantalizingly suspicious disappearance of every Fundamental, King-James-Bible-Believing Baptist in the world).
I think you’ve got the idea by now. And I haven’t even touched on what the school’s sports teams pious nickname would be, whether and what Christian symbols would be allowed, or other thorny issues.
Jesus’ desire that we all may be one is not faring all that well. Go ask your pastor how it can possibly be God’s will that His Church fall into such cacophony.
Or maybe the Church is faring just fine, but “we” is narrower than everybody who says “Jesus” with a little fervor.
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)