Sunday, October 7, 2007

Diversity, "The Church," and Me

Diversity...she is a mystery. A recent post dealt with ethnic diversity as it applies to affirmative action. The past couple of years I have been extremely troubled by diversity, in that; not only is she not always welcome, but in certain arenas she should be forbidden. I.E., an example from the business world:

While in grad school,I waited tables and tneded bar to pay the bills. At one point I helped to open a new store for Ruby Tuesday. Drilled in the temples of the opening team was the need to uphold specs every Ruby Tuesday in the nation was expected to adhere to. "We want a traveling business person who stops in this location to have the same experience he or she had at a different Ruby Tuesday several nights ago." The experience allowed for diversity of serving staff, but adherence to a universal set of standards.

This morning as I was feeding our youngest son I clicked on the tube. I happened to catch the last half of The Coral Ridge Hour (church service) and the first half of The Hour of Power (a different church service). The polarization within Christianity couldn't have been more visible that between the progression of these two shows. Here is the problem:

Diversity cannot exist in regards to truth, and religion is the portrayal of truth. There are no alternate routes when it comes to truth, thus mimicked in the natural world: Water can only be made up of H2O...not H3O, H4O, or H5O.

The conservative, the emergent church proponent, and the constitutionist cannot deny me this--not every religion has it right. Case in point: modern day Indian Tantrism still practises human sacrifice. I don't believe this practice would be accepted as a truthful response to seeking the will of God, let alone condoned by the first amendment. So, just because something is practiced as religion and felt by the emotions, it cannot be right.
Thus the pit in my stomach. Everything is either truth or lie, fact or fiction, wrong or right--it cannot be both. Focusing the religious scope on Christianity, diversity has run amok. Let's look at the timeline, in generalizations.

From Jesus' ascent to Constantine (313) exists the Christian church (greek; kat wholos--lit.according to the whole). Constantine ushers in the Roman Catholic (kat wholos) Church. The Eastern Orthodox splits from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054. 1215 sees the split from the Roman Catholic Church of the Anglican church. Then in 1517, Luther branches out after a failed attempt at reform. For 1500 years, there existed only 3 major Christian worldviews. Flash forward to 1985 CE. The World Christian Encyclopedia publishes the existence of at least 22,150 different protestant denominations in the US alone. 22,150 variations of the truth? Dear reader, cannot the there only be ONE truth? Think about it:

The Southern Baptist claims that once a person has accepted Christ, they cannot loose the salvation that accompanies that decision, while the Assemblies of God member claims they can. Only one can be right, for this is matter of truth. Lutherans believe that when Jesus died on the cross He atoned for the sins of all people of all time-even those who have not or will not come to faith in Christ and will spend eternity in hell. Some Presbyterian churches teach a "limited atonement" of Christ, i.e., that Christ's death on the cross atoned only for the sins of "the elect." Only one can be right, for this is a matter of truth. Keep in mind, at least 22,150 discrepancies exist.

I know, I know...I am too narrow minded; but of this I am glad. In the spirit of tolerance I can stand side by side any of the 22,150 knowing that we have something in common, but I know at some level the person on my right, the person on my left, and myself are WRONG.

In the context of the representation and presentation of absolute truth diversity does not make sense. Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." Apparently there are millions of folks worshipping Jesus in Spirit...that is easy. But when it comes to truth, many MUST be missing the mark. My guess is that most of us settle for the version of truth that fits our personal agenda and lifelong accumulation of presuppositions.

My spirit is uneasy. I know the truth that forms the basis of my worldview exists in purity. I must, with presuppostions aside, discover and embrace it, because I cannot live a lie. While I can and do enjoy the unity that exists in a room full of Christians who compose a fraction of the 22,150, I have a feeling that Jesus would not want me to believe and follow anything other than his truth.

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