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about dialogue and challenges

The following quote concerns a dialogue that has been taking place between the Church of God and leaders of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ...

the Church of God participants in this dialogue have tended to learn one or two theological lessons in the process. One is that the movement should take more seriously its own stance of non-creedalism. The challenge for us is not to protect our current perceptions of truth (one way to define denominationalism) so much as it is to continue seeking the most adequate possible apprehension of truth in an open fellowship of maturing believers. Openness and maturing do not survive well in a context of defensiveness and suspicion. It is enabled by widening the circle of disciples who are searching for all that God intends for the whole church to know and be and do. Much overblown has been our movement's historic fear of theological contamination if we should involve ourselves seriously with Christians whose perspectives differ at points from our own. Some of us now are learning that we ought to believe more strongly that truth is not that fragile and that God still superintends the life of his faithful people. In the end, it is not light that yields to darkness, but darkness to light.

We as two church movements have much with which to enrich each other. We have begun to learn from each other and must continue to benefit by building meaningful relationships. While we hold in common the lordship of Jesus Christ, we do not need to arrive at full consensus on doctrinal issues in order to be open to each other, influenced by each other, genuinely valuing and loving each other, and learning to minister with each other. (Barry Callen in Coming Together in Christ, pp. 79-80)

Reading this book makes me think--a lot. I'm thinking about what I said in class the other day... For a long time, I've felt that I need to learn to dialogue; and yet it seems to be a truly difficult challenge for me. Perhaps this reveals an important lesson: that my greatest weaknesses can also show my greatest areas of potential strength.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
Off topic because I shouldn't be up at this hour...
This is so off topic and I'm sure there are more thoughts swimming around in my brain but for now...

Did you know that there are different Churches of Christ and that one of them is a Cult? There is the main one, and the International Church of christ (ICOC.)

I only wish I had done the research before I fell into the trap right after I moved here in '98.

Honestly it's no surprise I cannot seem to find a church around here where I am comfortable. LOL
They are a very strange group--and enjoy interpreting the bible to suit them.
They've been investigated for misuse of funds and all sorts of stuff--even requiring that members all live together if they are single, and you are not allowed to marry outside of the church.
You were discouraged from doing anything that kept you from going to church (all services,) even if it was to visit family.

I lasted a year and left, thankfully.
During my unfortunate waste of time there, I went to quite a few weddings--again a requirement, I was amazed that often the actual families of the individuals getting married weren't there--in fact, a lot of them did not have relationships with them unless they became a part of the church. It was also the only place I'd ever seen where people literally got engaged and then like married in two months. There were no long engagements. Someone told me one time that it was a physical thing because the couple hadn't been together yet... heh A very disturbing place to say the least!
May. 3rd, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
Re: Off topic because I shouldn't be up at this hour...
Sadly there are similar groups using the Church of God name. :( Fyi, our dialogue is with the mainstream Church of Christ. I'm glad you got out of that group. And I understand your dilemma in finding a church where you're comfortable a bit better now. [hugs] I did quite a bit of reading about these groups last year when we hosted the other Church of God group for a chapel service. The singing was fabulous, but the theology was something I could not handle. They believe they are preserving our 19th century heritage. Having studied this heritage now as well as the aftermath of it, I believe there are some significant misinterpretations. That is a matter for another post--but a very important one.

This actually isn't so off topic... Part of my internal struggle is how to handle dialogue with groups like this. Our Church of God was once quite exclusivist. Thankfully it is not anymore. This is a relatively common practice of some church groups that find fault with denominations: they try to right things by extricating themselves, being "separated from the world." It doesn't really work, and a lot of people get hurt in the process. Some lessons have to be learned over a long, long period of time; and it hurts me to know the damage that gets done in that process. But to hurry the process of trying to dialogue or especially to hurry trying to correct it just causes more damage. (See my other posts this week.)
May. 3rd, 2008 09:08 am (UTC)
Re: Off topic because I shouldn't be up at this hour...
Wow you were up early too. I'm still awake. LOL.
Drinking coffee and going to stay that way... Anyway... Yeah it's sort of hard when so far the choices you've made that you thought were right ones at the time ended up being wrong. hhaha Suppose that didn't make much sense...
But yes--that situation and what I experienced has a lot to do with my issues in finding a church here. It's also amazing how when you leave a situation like that--the people who were supposedly your friends at the time disassociate themselves with you as if you don't exist. Blech.
May. 3rd, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
One day I would like to sit down with you (literally - face to face) and talk to you (ie dialogue. . . **chuckles**) about healing the Church. It's a beautiful thing to see it happen. The dialog you posted is SUCH a good thing.
When men begin to understand the truth about ONE - then they can become ONE.

:) I'm grinning from my whole being. This is tremendously beautiful.
May. 3rd, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
healing the church
I wish I was not so rushed in reading this book... (It will get a second read.) I would like to put it down, write a reflection, pick it up, read some more, put it down, write some more... I think that part of our "problem" is that we try to force unity and healing. It occurs to me that when the New Testament church had difficulties (Jews vs. Gentiles), they really got down to a frame of things that could be agreed on: serving the poor. (I'm working from memory and I just woke up.) All the things that were so theologically central for the Jews had to take a back seat for the sake of the Gentiles. I really need to write this up...
May. 3rd, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Re: healing the church
**smiles at you**
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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