Saturday, October 29, 2005

Quest and Opportunity

Tomorrow is Sunday and once again I will not attend church. That probably seems strange considering the fact that I’m a seminary graduate and a former pastor.

I graduated from seminary where the quest for Truth was honored and revered and sacred. At the Southern Baptist seminary we were many – Baptists mainly, but also Catholic nuns and Methodists and Presbyterians and others. One seeker was a young man of great intelligence and sincerity – an agnostic – with whom I had completed an undergraduate degree. We were many but we were one, united by the quest.

Our quest was not a pilgrimage to some common place that had been named holy. We were not in a monastery trying to escape. We were on a quest for the Truth. In our quest we read theology written by a Dutch Roman Catholic. The works of Lutherans and Jews were treated as valid sources of the Truth. We believed – no! – we knew, confidently knew, no one had the Truth and yet all had a portion of the Truth. Even the atheist and the scientist possessed some of the Truth.

Those who led us were men and women of integrity who risked their livelihoods and careers to speak their portion of the Truth. They walked the line between appeasing the fundamentalists and angering them to the point of censure and dismissal. The “correct” teaching concerning gender and homosexuality and abortion and other issues was not spoken but the Truth was spoken. Those who led did so by word and example. Most of them are dead but I continue to respect them and be grateful for them.

So, tomorrow I will not attend an institutionalized church but I will continue the quest. I am not alone. There are many who will stand outside and continue searching and seeking. We are not the religious right and it pains us to be mistaken for them but that is as it must be for now. This moment in history that is dominated by the religious right is fleeting and will not last.

I see this time as an opportunity. It offers the opportunity to speak the Truth, the opportunity to be an example to others, the opportunity to make our lives count for something worthy by refusing to confrom and settle for half-truths.


Blogger George Breed said...

Yessir,there are many of us out here now. Have greatly appreciated that verse in Hebrews (13:13) for many years about Jesus going outside the camp and us needing to go out there with him.

Well, here we are! And there is a lot of life out here!

Paul, I think you are more like an interfaith minister. Welcome at all campfires and dweller at none.

Kind of like Jesus. Itinerant.

10/30/2005 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you for sharing this. Reading your posts is helping me to have a wider and deeper perspective on Christianity.

10/30/2005 02:49:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Clayton said...

Bravo, Paul: "Tomorrow is Sunday and once again I will not attend church." You know I didn't either. Ellie and I went to the Quaker Meeting: all 8 of us there. The best part is the second hour around the table, drinking coffee, eating cake, etc. It's like family. Year by year we grow closer together.

We are respected in the religious community here. They know we're different, but they don't knock us.

Church is where you make it. A community is (can be) a colony of heaven. I hope you find like minds you can meet with (on schedule or not).

When I started out, after being in two wars, I felt like my best ministry would be in the bars of N.O. But I didn't have the guts. I fled into the sanctuary of the Meth. Church; they were my seminary (although I also attended N.O.Bapt.) After 8 years I graduated-- I do believe that's the appropriate term.

I'm still a Meth. minister, but I think of it in a more secular sense, like the Kiwanis or something. Well bless you and all those around us here.

Get organized. Support one another, pray together, or whatever you feel led to do. God bless you.

10/30/2005 12:43:00 PM  

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