The Birth and Death of the First Century Church - Part 2

Column by Dr. Carl Krieg on 2 March 2023 0 Comments

We began with a description of human nature and used that to try to understand who Jesus was and how he was able to impact people, an analysis that bypasses much of the traditional theology about who and what he was.

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Judgement? Can we say someone is not a Christian by watching their behavior, or would we be judging, which is not ours to do?


Dear Bill,

It’s understandable that folks would question the bona fides of others who claim to be Christian, given that so many of them fail to live up to the example of the Christ they so stridently claim to follow.

But that kind of judgment is a stumbling block for those of us trying to follow the way of Jesus.

If we think of Christianity as a bulwark with walls, then we define who is in and who is out.  But if Christianity is centered on divine love, naturally attracting people toward the Ultimate Reality of compassion, then there are no boundaries, no dogmatic definitions of who is Christian and who is not, who is out and who is in.

Progressive Christianity, at its best, affirms this perspective of the faith.  We are all Bozos on Jesus’ bus, and that’s okay.  Not one of us is a perfect mirror of the divine agape at the center of our faith.

While we preach and teach a progressive, non-dogmatic, pluralistic perspective of the faith, we are called to welcome all sorts of humans into our churches.  Fundamentalists, evangelicals, atheists, agnostics, people of other faiths, Republicans, Democrats, socialists, capitalists, flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers – and certainly we welcome hypocrites.  Because to one degree or another, that’s all of us.  We all espouse values we fail to reflect in our behavior.

If your church doesn’t have some members you find hypocritical, funky, or outright obnoxious, go look for another church.  Because the church is supposed to be a fitness center for love.  And if there aren’t some folks in your church who are hard to love, then you are missing out on the heavy lifting that will build up your spiritual muscles.

To follow the way of Jesus, a sense of humor is very helpful.  Because comedy abounds in a faith that attracts us toward ideals that are nigh unto impossible to put fully into effect.  Our best response to people who claim to be Christian but don’t seem to act the part is to smile –appreciating the irony of their failure, and of our own failure, to love as Jesus did.

~ Rev. Jim Burklo




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