Challenging encounter

I attend a group who gathers once per month to discuss, faith, culture, religion and many other topics.  I had an encounter with one of the people who attends this group tonight that just leaves me angry and sad.  This guy is self identified as an Christian apologist and when we began to talk about theories of atonement tonight he was very dogmatic about his perspective of the substitutionary atonement theory.  However, he wouldn’t let anyone else have a differing opinion.  If we did not agree with his so called “essentials” of Christianity, then we were just wrong.  He asked my pastor and I “if we even knew what Christianity was”, implying that we were not Christians because of our openness to some ideas and our lack of dogmatism in the “essentials”.  

I have to tell you that having grown up in a conservative Christian environment and having moved away from that, it takes a lot of energy to keep my mouth shut in those situations.  I am angered at what I perceive as arrogant dogmatism that really doesn’t, in my opinion, again, have much to do with God but more with our need to have power and authority.  At one time I was like that gentleman (though he wasn’t very gentle), and I thought that I had thing figured out and that I was serving God when I argued and brow beat others with my theology. 

I am sad because I have done the very same thing to other people and I am sure that I have injured their understanding and view of who God is and what he is like, what his grace, mercy and redemption are all about.  For that I am truly sad.

I pray that the Lord would lead me to be gracious to this man, to act in love and grace and not react from anger or my own arrogance, because, honestly, I wanted to put my boot up his ass.  I promised to be honest on this blog, so there you have it.  Not very Christian of me, huh?  Good thing there is grace and there is mercy and good thing we don’t decide who gets in or out of God’s redemption.  

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2 thoughts on “Challenging encounter

  1. Kelley,

    Great to have honest input. Clearly there are many for whom religion is something to get right and there are others (among which I could myself) that faith is a journey to be shared and explored. God can be found partially and imperfectly perhaps in both routes. But for me my faith has grown, my love for Christ and others expanded, and my passion for life increased since I have shaken off the certainties and embraced the uncertain.

    Blog on…..

    Mark

  2. “Good thing there is grace and there is mercy and good thing we don’t decide who gets in or out of God’s redemption. ”

    Amen, brother! I am looking forward to joining you at the next meeting, though it sounds a little more “diverse” than I expected. I would not have guessed an overly-dogmatic person to become apart of a gathering that is specifically discussing the path of the church in our changing world.

    Though your description seems apt. I’ve never heard the term “apologist” applied to anyone that wasn’t very dogmatic. Perhaps that’s a limitation of my perception. I’ll pray for your patience because, Lord knows, if I join your group – I’ll need it too! 🙂

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