Monday, January 14, 2013

Heretic? Or no?

This morning I read in Christianity Today (the print edition) about "insider Christians" -- people who embrace Jesus Christ as savior without leaving the culture of their native religion.  One of the things that sent one believer back to his roots was Christians who told him that Allah, the creator-God he had worshiped for a lifetime, was not the same as the Christian God.

How many times have I been told that Allah is not the God we Christians worship.  This has puzzled me greatly.  Islam is a monotheistic religion, right?  One God, creator of all.  That is the God I, too, worship as a Christian.  How much arrogance does it take to claim that my "one God creator of all" is real and worthy of worship and yours is not?

The man referenced in the article initially left his Muslim roots behind and embraced Christianity.  He attended a Bible college and studied the history and culture of Christianity.  Then he went back to his people and stepped back into the Muslim culture in order to spread the good news of "Isa-Masih" -- Jesus Messiah.  He is Christian by faith -- a Christ-follower -- and Muslim by culture and official religion.

Many people will say this is impossible, an oxymoron.  To accept the possibility leaves me outside of orthodoxy by the standards of almost everyone I know.  And yet here it is on the pages of Christianity Today as at least an idea worth noting.

Am I a heretic or simply being led in new directions by the Spirit ahead of the crowd?

Every day I spend time in the Christian Bible absorbing the teachings found therein.  Most of my "heresy" traces back to those pages and applies both faith and reason to what I find therein.

What has become known as the "Wesleyan quadrilateral" bases belief on Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.  My friends tend to rank them in that order, giving the voice of the Church more credence than that of reason or the whisper of the Spirit within our hearts.  There's safety there.  After all, if our hearts lead us in a different direction from what the church is taking, there's good reason to exercise great caution.  People have done outrageous things in response to what rages in their hearts.  However, in my 6th decade as a dedicated follower of Christ, I am discovering that many changes in the church have lagged behind but eventually ended up where my heart has led me long before.

I think I'm ready to trust my heart as molded by much exposure to Scripture and in open receptiveness to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Which makes me a heretic in a few areas.  I won't bother to list them here.  It might be plenty radical for some to simply affirm that "there is only one God and his name (in Arabic) is Allah."

Also, in my 6th decade, I am discovering that serving Christ in my world doesn't require the blessing of the Church.  Which makes me a bit more bold than I have been in the past in risking the loss of that blessing.

I'm still not ready to say these things and link them to Facebook.  But I might take a baby step of linking them to Google +