In my last post, I stated Christianity may be divided into to two differing perspectives. For the three or four of you who read here most often and have followed this blog since '07, I don't think what I am about to say will come as surprise to you.
I am thinking about Christianity in its earliest form through the sweep of the past 2000 years into its many varied expressions today. Attempting to reduce that broad topic into two categories may be a ridiculous exercise in over-simplification. Nonetheless, I do.
Perspective number one is the current dominant perspective and is the root of the mainline denominations, as well as the multitude of splintering into a proliferation of sects evident today. Greg, commenter on the last post, divided Christianity into Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant. These primary branches are really a function of one perspective: I'll give it a label--hmmm......well......uh........hour glass icon on forehead......
How about the "Follow God by the Book" perspective. Under such a heading one can trace the development of western Christian thought in which rationales and exegeses are anchored in a temporal view of the scriptures addressing the natural existence within time and space. (Thanks Carey for helping me articulate my thoughts.) Natural here referring to both our fallen natures and our physical bodies. The human experience is described as a living mortal within the confines of a physical realm defined by the five senses of the body and the inexorable passage of yet another day with the rising sun.
This view does not exclude the reality of the spiritual realm nor shrink back from teaching about such topics. Not at all, in fact, the various divisions within Christianity are a function of individuals and groups attempting to find the correct and ultimate understanding of things spiritual as revealed in scripture. Divisions come as disagreements about the spiritual realm surface. Follow-God-by-the-Book folks are continually shaping discussions and deriving doctrines based on scriptural interpretations of God's intended spiritual meanings. Usually followed by a strong expectation that "true" believers will hold to these doctrines. This is done fairly often as an apologetic of thought not intended to undo pagan falsehoods of the Most High God, but against other Christian belief systems deemed as inaccurate on spiritual interpretation or resulting consequences of behavior. In either case, from my observation I assert the critique of another view or of a particular behavior is usually based on assumptions that are created by forming the parameters of thought strictly within the time/space box.
The second perspective has a smaller following, but I think the current exodus from mainline and institutional expressions of Christianity is rooted in either the understanding of the contrasting perspective or the search for its meaning. This perspective might be labeled "Follow God from Within."
The emphasis from this perspective is on having a knowing of the the direction of God's leading from within one's heart. The written word is not ignored, but the primary inspiration for decision-making is from within. This perspective attempts not only to understand God as existent beyond time and space on the earth but to know the human experience within the earth's boundary as an existence joined to limitless God and participating in His eternity even as the body breathes temporarily. Consider Colossians 3: 1-3.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
There is violence done to meaning sometimes by analysis which pulls parts of the whole open for examination. This delineation of thought here for the purpose of discussion is in some ways artificial. Clearly we Christians live life as some composite of both views. Hence my assertion in the last post that I am not calling one side wrong over the other. Based on Romans 10: 9-10
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation.
God knows above and beyond us whose confession is from a true heart and produces righteousness unto salvation. However, this does not alter the idea that there exists two different ways to approach understanding God and walking with Him. The letter kills but the spirit gives life, taken from 2 Corinthians 3:6 is a mainstay of Christian thought and living. Though God is not blocked from reaching the true heart who is within a construct that is based on living to the letter of the written word, I believe an ever deepening relationship with God will develop further and further along the path of living in the moment in union with an eternal God who is not bound by time and space.