I have been struggling to find any satisfactory conclusion to the first part of this article. Christianity is so diverse that it’s often difficult to recognise some denominations as belonging to the same religion. While most Christians in NZ are at the liberal end of the spectrum, even here there are a few extremists. One only has to compare this rant with this statement to wonder what they have in common. As far as I can see, the only commonality is the use of the word God, although clearly not the same God.
At one end of the spectrum there are Christians who believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and the only source of authority. At the other end there are Christians who believe the Bible is valuable piece of literature full of myth, wisdom, ancient tribal law, factual inaccuracies, and with no more authority than any other piece of literature.
Some Christians believe that unless one takes Christ as their saviour and is “born again”, one is destined to eternal damnation. Others believe that if one believes/practices the essential Christian message of love, one will be saved regardless of whether one knows of Jesus or Christianity. Some believe that somehow, all but the most deliberately evil will eventually have eternal life. A few believe that salvation is a man made concept.
Some will say that the doctrine of the Trinity is an essential element of faith. Others will say it’s optional. Some insist that the doctrine is a heresy, and either they are three completely separate persons, or that there is only one person.
A few believe the Second Coming is imminent. Others believe it might happen sometime in the distant future. Others believe it is a metaphor. A few believe the kingdom of God is in the here and now, and it is up to humankind as to whether it turns out to be a heaven or a hell.
Most Christians believe in the divinity of Christ. Others believe Jesus was was a radical Jew. A few wonder if Jesus as portrayed in the Bible existed at all.
A few believe all the laws in the Old Testament (over 600 I believe) apply to everyone (although I have yet to see a Christian who obeys them all). Most will argue that the laws were a covenant between the tribe of Israel and God, and doesn’t apply to Gentiles, or that Christians have a New Covenant that supersedes the old one. A few believe all laws (biblical or otherwise) are man made, created to to regulate society.
A few Christians believe the world was created in six days and the earth is 6,000 years old. Most don’t. Even the concept of a Personal God isn’t universal among all Christians.
At one end of the spectrum, some Christians believe that God is a White male, all knowing and all powerful. At the other end, there are Christians who believe God is little more than a quiet voice that pricks their conscience.
Some Christians believe the church is the source of authority, others believe the bible is the only source, while others believe in a more individual (direct?) source.
In other words there’s almost no belief about God, Jesus and the Bible that is shared by all Christians. And we haven’t even touched upon morality, ethics and proselytising.
So is there a Christian message at all? I’m still pondering this question. To siriusbizinus: I had originally hoped to contain my response in a single post, but the question you posed has given me considerable food for thought, and to be honest, I haven’t been able to reach a conclusion as yet. It looks like this is developing into a series of posts as I work through the process.
To anyone who happens to stumble across this post: While I appreciate any and all comments, I would prefer that on the question of the ownership of the Christian message, you keep on topic, and that comments don’t degenerate into a slinging match of believers verses non-believers. If you haven’t read siriusbizinus’ post, I urge you to do so before commenting here