If being Orthodox didn’t already make me a foreigner on the American religious landscape then agreeing with these sentiments shared by Carson Clark over at “Musings of a Hardlining Moderate” will definitely make me a foreigner and maybe even among my fellow Orthodox. I share these sentiments Carson has created:
I Believe in a Fundamentally Different Faith Than Most Christians
Despite affirming the same set of central doctrinal convictions, something is amiss. I rarely get the sense I’m truly walking in stride with my fellow Christians. Indeed, it often feels as though I believe in a fundamentally different faith than most of my brothers and sisters in the Lord. That’s because, in a very real sense, it seems I do. To the core of my faith are the beliefs that Christ’s Kingdom:
- Finds its rooting, identity, and meaning in history,
- Is premised upon loving the Lord and our neighbor with the entirety of our beings,1 (1.i.e. heart, (the often neglected) mind, soul, strength.)
- Presents us with affirmations that must be kept in tension, which precludes binary thought,2 (2.For further clarification and nuance of what I mean, see “Reflections on the Value and Folly of Binary Categorization.”)
- Requires one to discerningly living principles rather than submit to rigid rules, and
- Subverts our expectations of wealth, power, influence, and prestige.3 (3.See: “Pro-Christendom and Post-Christendom: The Watershed Point of Contemporary Christianity“)
Consequently, I believe in a different Christianity than most. Here are some firsthand examples:4 (4.I’m not suggesting every person in these traditions fits the mold. Instead I’m speaking to my general experiences.)
- Anabaptists who largely see the faith as ahistorical in nature,5 (5.Most seem to think we should ideally try to leapfrog back to the first century church described in Scripture. A commendable exception is the Brethren in Christ who explicitly affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.)
- Pentecostals who are apathetic or even belligerent toward the life of the mind.
- Presbyterians who frame the world in either/or categories,6 (6.For example, a conservative Presbyterian once pastor once said to me, “At the end of the day which side are you coming down on? It is going to be God’s sovereignty or human responsibility? It is going to be Scripture’s inspiration or its human authors? Is your faith in God or man?” My response was, “I don’t agree with the way you’re framing the issue. Why choose? It’s heresy to do that with Christology. I see no reason why it should be any different in any of these other areas.”)
- Roman Catholics who demand unquestioning submission to religious authorities, and
- Baptists who believe in the conjoining of one’s love of country with loyalty to it.
I do have major areas of commonality with almost all of these believers beyond mere doctrinal alignment. It’s just rare to find those who seem to have these same core convictions as to what the Kingdom is, means, and requires. Even among fellow Anglican Christians I often feel alone.