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Archive for Saturday, June 18, 2011

Faith Forum: How have your religious views changed in the last 10 years?

June 18, 2011

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The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:

At its worst, the Christian religion seeks to fulfill the expectations of a God we feel we can never please. This leads to a life of legalism or hypocrisy. At its best, the Christian religion is a response to the expansive love of a God who gave his very best to us. This leads to a life of integrity and humility as we receive and distribute truth and grace.

Ten years ago, two of my daughters were beginning their journey into adolescence, and one was in first grade. Today, two of them are young adults, and one is navigating the demands of adolescence with maturity and dignity. I have watched them mature through life’s challenges to become beautiful young women who love God and influence others. A lot has changed in my girls’ perspective on life, but the most satisfying change I’ve seen in them is maturity.

My hope is that my heavenly father can say the same for me. When I started on my journey with God, I realized two basic facts: one, I was a mess; two, through his son, Jesus, he can help me. By acknowledging my sin, and depending on his grace, I opened my heart and life to his powerful influence in me. My faith in the love of God the Father, the grace of Jesus, his son, and the profound presence of his Holy Spirit strengthen and sustain my life.

My hope is that the past 10 years have brought a deeper understanding of my weakness, combined with a deeper appreciation for his strength. In that sense, it is my hope that my religious views have changed by becoming more mature, not by moving away from the foundational truths that brought me into relationship with God in the first place.

— Send e-mail to Nate Rovenstine at jnrovenstine@juno.com.

The Rev. Pam Morrison, pastor, Amazing Grace Community Church 820 High St., Baldwin City:

I’ve heard the saying, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; and in all things, love,” attributed to various authors, but I will claim it as an aid to answer this question.

In the last 10 years, I’ve become increasingly immovable on core Christian beliefs (essentials). Every Christian might say, “Well, my perspectives are the ‘essentials.’” I simply mean I will not budge off classic Christian doctrines like the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the forgiveness of sin through him, etc. The passage of time has made me more “conservative” rather than less even if others modify doctrine or there is hurt encountered for holding firm. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in “The Cost of Discipleship” about a relentless courage present in those who have deep conviction. “Neither failure nor hostility can weaken the messenger’s conviction that he has been sent by Jesus.”

But differing views on spiritual matters have put us into sometimes unnecessary conflicts not only with those inside the Christian faith, but with those outside. So, though my beliefs have grown more resolute, my desire to be gracious has ironically, also increased. Billy Graham came under much fire from the right and the left. He responded in 1958 in Eternity magazine by saying, “It seems to me that the entire weight of Scripture lies in the direction of fellowship rather than separation. … What is the great overwhelming evidence that we have passed from death unto life? Orthodoxy? Morality? Evangelistic passion? No! It is love!”

My own change, then, has been to soften, feel compassion, listen, long to connect with those different from myself whether in doctrine or life experience even while “defending the faith.” Additionally has grown an ever increasing concern to serve the poor in real and tangible ways.

— Send email to Pam Morrison at revpmorrison21@aol.com.

Comments

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm a former Christian, non-practicing agnostic nowadays, although I have run the gamut of beliefs and readings in my quest for my own truth. I do want to say that I really appreciate your discussions of your opinions softening to be more inclusive. It's my opinion that the basic tenets of Christianity, and most other religions; ie, be good, be kind, love one another; are not only religious tenets, but basic good humanity.

I'm very sad that too many atheists and agnostics find it necessary to attack those of faith, when our own views ought to hold to more inclusion as well.

SuzMF 3 years, 5 months ago

For me, when thinking of God’s eternal love for man, it’s Psalm 8 (AV) in the Holy Bible which comes to mind. It’s growing closer in a relationship with God who is a universal creator of every living thing on earth. Earth is a learning ground for man. As we find our way in life, we’re given free will to believe in a divine consciousness; it’s faith in believing in something bigger than ourselves, which proves its eternal power and Godhead throughout the journey on earth. Every morning is new and filled with promise in understanding who one is in a heavenly Father, which loves his creation, of whom we are his own (Ps. 143:8).

Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author 2011 “For as awareness is, so is God consciousness.”

egoadvocate 3 years, 5 months ago

"For me, when thinking of God’s eternal love for man"...

....I think of God's willingness to send his children to hell for eternity.

I also think of all the Christians who honestly seek a closer relationship to God, only to be met with the deafening silence of God's non-existence. In response to this silence many Christians simply pretend to hear God speaking to them, and then they pretend to be in a relationship with God. Some Christians even pretend to know what God wants.

I am done playing pretend.

Mike Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

I researched the history of christianity and the manipulation of tribal nations by the us government and it's denominational pawns in the 19th century and decided I was a recovering pk with no use for organized religion. I've lived through the manipulation and pimping of churchlicans by the GOP since Reagan and I even listened to Reverend Morrison before a church in Baldwin City began to theologically splinter and she wound up with a store front church in Baldwin City. I can respect intellectual theologans who look with empathy at the problems of society but I have no use for the quasi puritans of the GOP and the tea party who use their faith to attack and judge others for political gain as it's being done currently.

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