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Thursday, December 13, 2007

How can you make sure people leave your church this Christmas?

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Sadly, this is an all-too-common example of the rhetoric that drives people from churches. The Rev. Dr. Gary A. Wilburn of New Canaan, Connecticut says:

“When I hear language like, ‘You can’t be saved unless you accept Christ as your personal savior,’ I know that it is usually sincere and heart-felt. But what it most likely means is ‘We are on the inside and you are on the outside. Ours is the only true faith. If you do it our way, you’ll have better access to God than the followers of Buddha or Mohammed, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Charles Darwin, or the ‘inner light,’ or whatever, We welcome everyone into God’s family as long as you’re willing to become like us,” he said.

“That kind of insular theology makes Christianity a religion of exclusion, not inclusion,” Dr. Wilburn added. “A far cry from the universality of which the Bible speaks when it claims, ‘There is one God who is father of all, over all, through all and within all,” and “God is love, and anyone who lives in love, lives in God and God in him [or her].’ As a progressive Christian, I see in Jesus the true image and likeness of God. For me, Jesus is the face of God, the heart of God, the way of God. Jesus shows me what a life full of God looks like. For Christians, Jesus is our access into the realm of God. But at that same time I recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for their access into God’s realm. Because at the end of day, I believe that God is bigger than any of our ideas about God.”

But what if there actually was a revelation from God that told us what God thinks about things and, particularly, about Himself, who He is and what He is like?

At the risk of sounding rude: Attention! People go to Christian churches because they want to worship God through Jesus Christ. When liberal Christian theologians stop castigating people for - well, for believing what it is that Christians believe, they may be able to reverse the trends of departure and demographic winter in their denominations.

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