Monday, May 2, 2011

Defining Ria

Recently I was asked to define myself in terms of my Christian beliefs. It is always a hard task to try and narrow, who you are and what you believe down into a few socially acceptable sentences. I like these kind of discussions and love it when people feel they can ask questions.

At the time, the book Pagan Christianity kept coming back to me. I wanted very much to express that I was over religion, and seeking the 'relationship' that I was created for.

I very wrongly termed myself a Pagan Christian (which I wrongly thought was in line with the book).

What I failed to 'get' with the book is that Viola and Barna use this definition;

"We are using this word to indicate those practices and principles that are not Christian or biblical in origin. In some cases, we use it to refer to those ancients who followed the gods of the Roman Empire. We are not using the word as a synonym for bad, evil, sinful or wrong. A "pagan practice or mind-set" refers to a practice or mode of thinking that has been adopted from the church's surrounding culture. We believe that some pagan practices are neutral and can be redeemed for God's glory. We feel that others stand in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and thus can not be redeemed."

Simply put, I had the wrong definition, and thus the application was very wrong.

So, I am NOT a Pagan Christian. In fact if anything I am trying to journey away from what the authors define as pagan Christianity.

As a side note, I would like to add here, that I respect, love and embrace ALL of my Christian friends, who find very much comfort in such churches and traditions.

There is no judgement on my part on how others choose to worship God. There is only a desire in my own heart to be authentic and relational in a way that I can connect to Father (through Jesus). If we are all accountable and responsible for our own personal relationships with Father, then I am merely trying to find my fit, and can fully respect and appreciate that others may find it differently. I am not against disciplines or tradition, but I am for doing things with owned meaning.

So, in terms of Viola and Barna's book, I suppose I closely fit the term 'organic christian' if you like definitions.

The definition says this in relation to organic church;

The term organic church does not refer to a particular model of church (we believe that no perfect model exists.) Instead, we believe that the New Testament version of church is organic. An organic church is a living, breathing, dynamic, mutually participatory, every-member functioning, Christ-centered, communal expression of the body of Christ."

It is my own personal belief, that the church was never designed to be an institution. It was created to be a body of people living out the principles of Jesus.

For something to do that effectively, can you institutionalize it? I don't know that you can.

My views on church and home education and most other things in life flow from this concept. In order for personal (and corporate) grow to occur, then things need to flow organically.

I am very much for examining why we do what we do. I am very much for looking at how the doctrines of man, have overtaken the biblical practices set out for us in the New Testament. I seek to worship in Spirit and in Truth.

I am very much for embracing the whole of the God-head, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe the miracles of Jesus, and I believe that they can and are still being experienced today, all over the world. I believe in the supernatural and the spiritual. I believe that things happen outside of our realms of understanding, I believe in angels, I believe in demons. I believe in blessing and cursing, I believe in reaping and sowing, I believe in healing. I speak in tongues and I sometimes feel physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit. I prophecy, receive words of knowledge, dream dreams, and see visions. I believe the bible is the inspired word of God, yet I suspect that some of the interpretations there in, where shaped by history, culture and context. Or at the very least, are often interpreted through those filters.

I believe that God very much uses nature to speak to us (Romans 1:20), He did in biblical times, and he sure can today (1 Kings 19:11-13). I believe we need to be careful in remembering to worship the creator, not the created, in all shapes and forms.

I believe we can not earn salvation. There is nothing we can do to get it in, and of ourselves. It is a FREE gift that one receives. It comes by having faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1-2).

I believe that there is one way to God, through Jesus (he is the narrow path), but I do not believe in narrowing that path once one's future is secure (i.e. that one bible, one church, one denomination has it ALL right)

I believe that it is not my job to decide who gets into heaven. God is a righteous judge and he wishes that NONE should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

I am sure there will be many other tidbits that I will want to add to this. I have been mulling it over for the past couple of days, trying to figure it out, and I just know, that it is far from over and complete for me.