A long time ago I used to feel like there was only one right way of being Christian, and I knew I wasn’t fitting into the mold too well. Slowly I came to realize that there is more than one way to be Christian, and certainly more than one way to worship as a Christian. I suppose there are people who might be inclined to argue that point with me, but I’m certainly not alone in my thinking.
Theologian Marcus Borg, in his book “The Heart of Christianity” talks about the paradigm shift that is happening in North America. He calls this the shift from the “earlier” way of being Christian to the “emerging” way. Neither can claim the title of the “Only Way” or the “Right Way” or the “True Tradition” as both are simply different ways of seeing the Christian tradition. The critical difference between the two involves the concept of Biblical authority. Borg states, “For the earlier way of being Christian, the Bible is seen as the revealed will of God, as “God’s truth,” and thus as absolute and unchangeable.” For them the Bible is infallible and inerrant and should be taken as the literal word of God. The emerging paradigm does not ascribe to Biblical literalism. Consequently, the two paradigms see specific issues, such as the ordination of women, sexual orientation and Christian exclusivism (is there only one true religion and path to salvation), from vastly different viewpoints.
Needless to say, I found myself on the “emerging” path without even knowing it and I was overjoyed when I found that there were many others out there who understood God and the Bible in similar ways. I wasn’t a complete heretic. I couldn’t be burned at the stake. I didn’t have to stop being a pastor. I just had a different voice to offer and a new perspective to share. Some have embraced my thoughts and theology over the years, while others have been decidedly uncomfortable, and still others have been downright angry. It’s easier for me to accept those who don’t understand what I’ve been preaching and teaching when I remember that I didn’t just make all this up in my head. Thinking, questioning and historical context and metaphorical theology are taught in our seminaries. Some pastors are just afraid to share it for fear that the “earlier” way folks will string them up on the flagpole outside the church. And it is probably a legitimate fear. Thankfully it is a fear I do not have at Sacred Journeys. Thankfully the Sacred Journeys Board is a group of open-minded, curious, thinking, challenging, searching adults who share the “emerging” paradigm with me and are energized by the spiritual journey. I am immensely grateful to be the spiritual leader in a place I can be me.