Saturday, July 25, 2009

Avoiding those extremes

I spend a bit of time, on and off, reading various blogs. Blogs of close friends and acquaintances are fun to read. And then there are the really time-consuming blogs -- the ones written by people who are trying to work on their religious or political ideas, and they choose to do it in words, online.

Nothing wrong with that. That blogging generates lots of discussion and occasional helpful contributions.

I've grown up a Presbyterian all my life. I'm not one of the old-line liberal Presbyterians; I'm one of those conservative Reformed Presbyterians, you know, the ones that still believe the Bible is God's Word, believe the virgin birth. That kind.

Some would define Reformed theology as rather repressive. They might find it so. I do not. Some mistakenly equate us loosely with fundamentalists, which we most assuredly are NOT. My friends in my tight little cluster of Reformed Presbyterians see their faith as an internal discipline, accomplished through grace that God gives. It's not legalism. It's not from fear or guilt. If you're practicing your faith with those feelings, most of us would say, you've not understood faith correctly and still have a little honing to do.

In any religious system, a few members will flee away and say, "Whew! What a glorious and fortuitous escape!" I REALLY dislike it when I describe briefly my faith and another blog-commenter will say, "I felt JUST as you did, about three years ago, before I was enlightened." This happened to me just the other day! Thanks, but NO thanks!

I understand that some people, in the religious system they grow up in, feel trapped, miserable, stifled, repressed. But not everyone in that group feels that way. Some fundamentalists go to their graves happy and content in their faith. So do many Baptists and theonomists and holiness pentacostals, I'm sure. I don't agree with them in many points, but I do want to be gracious enough to think that EVERYONE doesn't have to be a Reformed Presbyterian to be blessed in his/her faith!

In the middle of these musings, I read this passage last night before bed, from dear old C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity:

"[The devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs -- pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them."

And this is what truly worries me about Christians who flee. They are so dead-set on the horrific error from which they are fleeing, that they are likely to find themselves comfortably ensconced in its opposite.

So, I'm happy not to flee. Like Lewis, I want to find that middle ground.

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