Those who claim Christ as Savior express a wide set of opinions on a varied set of topics. I became acutely aware of this after I left organized religion. I fully believed at one time the true Christian looked, spoke and believed similarly to me, regardless of his or her particular stream. The "true" Christian was "sold out to Jesus", full of the Holy Spirit, someone dedicated to all things Christian and exhibited strong character as a result.
Then I began to doubt in the character of those I walked with largely because I could no longer be dishonest about my own immaturity. I had to face it. In doing so, my sensitivity to what immaturity looked and sounded like became more acute. So I left. The others did not want to deal with our mutual immaturity, and it was either sink with them or swim on my own.
Once I had left the organized church, I told myself I wanted to think again. I had allowed myself to think only what I had been told was safe to think for too long. Eighteen years to be exact, twelve of these as an elder. (This is not intended to suggest that organized religion does this routinely. It is simply what I experienced.) I began to read and often from what before had been labeled by my teachers and spiritual leaders as inappropriate theology. Since I no longer recognized their authority over what and what not to read, I read...widely.
I discovered broad parameters of a significant diversity of "Christian" opinion. I simply wanted to know, "What is right belief?"
It actually came together for me in a secular, graduate sociology course. Much of current Christian theology seems intended to make the world a better place. I think this is misguided. In order to explain and follow Kansas Bob's advice for a blog post to be brief, I think I will need three different posts...maybe four. So please bear with me, if I have gotten your attention.
Beginning in the middle:
Sociology is a modern, established scientific discipline in disarray. Some would even say that it is not even truly a science, though a degree in sociology is a batchelor's degree in science. Many colleges have even begun to dismantle their sociology departments. (It's been two and a half years since I took the course that delivered this information to me; so if this state of affairs has significantly changed, I apologize upfront for any disinformation.) As reported to me then, the problem is that sociologists cannot agree on a unifying sociological theory for why society functions as it does. Please do not be put off by my know-it-all impertinence, but I know why; and the answer explains, in part, the great diversity of Christian opinion about what Christianity should be.
See you soon with more.