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Christian? Maybe Too Much...


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Guest billmc

To all my friends here at the forum for TCPC:

 

Okay, so my topic title is a bit of a play on Jen's farewell to the forum, but it reflects where I am on my journey and sets the context for my own farewell to this community. I sent part of this to Joseph earlier today and wanted to share it with you all here so that you understand my own reasons for my departure.

 

First off, I have a great deal of respect for TCPC. I think it is a needed effort in our day and time. But it seems to be going in a direction that is significantly different from my own. This doesn't mean that I think that TCPC is wrong or misguided. I think they are on the right path...for them and what they want to accomplish. But it's not my path and I must be true to my own path (something PCs cherish).

 

I'm 50 now. I have selfishly spent a large part of my life, despite being a Christian, trying to get what I wanted, trying to fulfill my own needs. And I’ve never discovered any real peace or lasting joy in doing that. If I'm lucky, I might have maybe 25 years left on this old earth before I shuffle off into I know not what. And I want to spend those years making a difference for others – immediately for my family, for my friends, for my community, and even, in some sense, for the world. I am very concerned about the state of our world right now and I want to do some part, no matter how small, in making it better for my children and for my children’s children. I’ve been taking some steps in that direction in the last couple of years and feel in my heart that I need to continue on that path, not for glory or fame or even for remembrance sake, but simply because life is sacred to me.

 

To me, from what I see on the TCPC website, the organization seems mostly interested in some kind of church reform. It seems that they want to have conferences at churches and try to offer churches some new ways for the church to survive through the 21st century. There is probably a need for that, in fact, I’m sure there is. There are many, many people who still go to church and they would most likely rejoice to find that their own church is discovering “a new Christianity” or “a new way to be a Christian”. I applaud TCPC in their efforts to do this...but this is not my calling. I don’t feel called to “the saints” except to encourage them to love “the sinners.” I don’t have the desire or the gifts for church reform. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in it, just that it is not part of my dream.

 

We have been gifted, in our day and time, with great theologians like Robinson, Borg, Crossan, Spong, and others who can and have helped Christians make more sense of their religion. Thank God for these dear people who are hammering out some kind of new theology (or philosophy) that can help people remain part of a church or remain under the label “Christian”. These people have helped me greatly also and have helped restore my faith in Jesus. But while I find it very interesting to discuss new images of God and new forms of theism or sacredness, I always find myself coming back to the question of, “So what? What difference does it make to the 6 billion people on this earth?” Do I need a new definition of God in order to give a cup of water to someone who is thirsty or to help feed someone who is hungry? Do I need a new Christology to help someone find clothes to wear or to put them in touch with others who can help them find shelter? Do I need a “new Christianity” in order to stand up for the cause of justice and equality?

 

Time and again, I find myself answering, “No.” I don’t need the church to do these things. And I don’t need the label “Christian” to be a more compassionate person. I don’t even need “the authority of Christ” to command me to be this way. I want to do these things simply because I feel connected to others and want to make a difference.

 

So I am simply not much interested in preserving the existence of churches or Christianity. Others certainly are. TCPC seems to be. And that’s fine. But it is not where my heart is or where my path goes. My heart seems to be drawn to “the least of these” in the highways and byways, not to the saints sitting in the pews.

 

To me, the great truths of human/divine relationship would still be there without the church, without Christianity, even without the Bible and Jesus. This is why we see them surface in other religions. And while TCPC claims to value other religions, what I see happening there at TCPC is the pushing of Christianity and churches...and I’m simply not comfortable going in that direction. Again, I’m sure there is a place for what they are doing and for what they are trying to accomplish, but that path is simply not mine.

 

On the other hand, I've found you, the members of this forum, to be very open and accepting without pushing church or Christianity. I appreciate every one of you that I have interacted with and had the privilege of getting to know better over the last couple of years. You, not TCPC, have helped me to grow...and I thank each of you for that. I will miss you dearly, but the truth of the matter is that TCPC is a Christian organization and this is a forum that is meant to serve that organization, a forum which, oddly, no one from the organization seems to post on. :D To me, TCPC is a Christian entity that seems to want to focus on the church and the Christian religion. While I find some value in both of these, my focus is, hopefully, somewhat broader - on humanity. And that is where I want to spend my remaining years, making a difference, not for churches or for the Christian religion, but for people, no matter who they are.

 

Like Jen, I wish each and every one of you the very best. If you are still searching, I hope you find what you are looking for. If you've found it, I hope you will live it and bless others with it. Most of all, I hope that all of you do what Jack Spong recommends - live fully, love wastefully, be all that you can be.

 

With warmest regards,

bill mc

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Hi Bill, I wish you many blessings on your path, and I know that your absence here will certainly be felt. I haven’t been a member of this board for very long but nevertheless I’ve appreciated your contributions and thoughts. I can understand where your coming from, and I do think its great that you are finding or have found a path that is more true to yourself and your vision.

 

Anyway, best of luck and don't hesitate to drop us a line now and then.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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On the other hand, I've found you, the members of this forum, to be very open and accepting without pushing church or Christianity. I appreciate every one of you that I have interacted with and had the privilege of getting to know better over the last couple of years. You, not TCPC, have helped me to grow...and I thank each of you for that. I will miss you dearly, but the truth of the matter is that TCPC is a Christian organization and this is a forum that is meant to serve that organization, a forum which, oddly, no one from the organization seems to post on. biggrin.gif To me, TCPC is a Christian entity that seems to want to focus on the church and the Christian religion. While I find some value in both of these, my focus is, hopefully, somewhat broader - on humanity. And that is where I want to spend my remaining years, making a difference, not for churches or for the Christian religion, but for people, no matter who they are.

 

 

I will miss your presence. Keep in touch.

 

Thanks for your appreciation and I might say we very much appreciated you here. I guess you do not see US here as TCPC. We are all here TCPC community whether Christian, Buddhist, Tao or whatever so even though you might not see it this way, I believe TCPC has helped because they provided the funds to operate and update this site and encourage its continuance so we members could fellowship and passing guests could benefit by any insightful postings.

 

I can't change the way you see TCPC but I am glad it has benefited you also by allowing US ALL to share this space together with you and grow. We will miss you and look forward to your return should you decide to stop back in now and then. Your profile and many very insightful posts will remain intact in our database to be shared with all.

 

With the greatest of Love and best wishes on your journey and endeavors,

Love in Christ,

 

Joseph and

JosephM(as Moderator/Admin)

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Bill,

I know I've been one of those who has been looking for religious reform. That is because I have seen organized religion as one of the best vehicles for making the differences in the world you've described.

 

For example, I can go volunteer at the impoverished school across town for three hours a week, or I can spend one of those hours organizing church volunteers to help at the school and get a combined 24 hours a week of help at the school.

 

One of the issues is that church has become less and less of a place to find that kind of help, because church now is often not appealing. This forum has been helping me to understand that I may need to let go of the idea that church will be the place in the future for groups to unite to help God's kingdom come on earth.

 

I know you've felt like leaving for some time now, and if you do I will miss your contributions. It seems like the church reform issue is only one piece of what people are talking about here. I, for one, would appreciate more talk about how PCs can unify to make a larger difference in the world than we can individually. If it is not through church, I'd like to have some help understanding where/how we make that happen.

 

Can you still keep talking about The Shack?

 

Janet

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Guest billmc
I wish you many blessings on your path, and I know that your absence here will certainly be felt. I haven’t been a member of this board for very long but nevertheless I’ve appreciated your contributions and thoughts.

 

Thanks, Mike. I’ve appreciated yours also, my friend.

 

I can understand where your coming from, and I do think its great that you are finding or have found a path that is more true to yourself and your vision.

 

That’s a pretty good way to put it. The forum here has greatly helped me to find my own path, often through similar ones and sometimes through contrasting ones.

 

I will miss your presence. Keep in touch.

 

Thanks, Joseph. If anyone wants to stay in touch, I’ll leave my email in my profile.

 

I guess you do not see US here as TCPC.

 

You’re right, I see you all as friends, fellow human beings on your own journeys.

 

I can't change the way you see TCPC but I am glad it has benefited you also by allowing US ALL to share this space together with you and grow.

 

I won’t deny that my negative experiences with Christians and Christianity don’t still color my perceptions and influence the way I see things, Joseph. Perhaps someday I will fully recover and feel more “at home” within a Christian community. It would be nice because my roots are in that religion and there are many good people there. We shall see.

 

We will miss you and look forward to your return should you decide to stop back in now and then. Your profile and many very insightful posts will remain intact in our database to be shared with all.

 

Thank you, my friend. I’ll drop by once in a while just to see how you all are doing and, perhaps, to grab some of my old posts for a future endeavor that I might take on. Thanks again for your patience and understanding. We (this forum) have had a lot of great discussions and I’m sure there will be more. I appreciate that even when there are seeming great differences in points-of-view; people try to be understanding and compassionate towards one another. You sure this is a Christian forum? (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) :lol:

 

billmc

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Guest billmc

Hi Janet,

 

I know I've been one of those who has been looking for religious reform. That is because I have seen organized religion as one of the best vehicles for making the differences in the world you've described.

 

I understand. There are a lot of folks who find great meaning and fulfillment in their religion, but wish it would be reformed in some aspects. I think TCPC is a great vehicle for reformation of the Christian religion. It's just that not everyone wants to be a Christian. :) So I think we need something broader, something that goes beyond religion to spirituality or practice.

 

This forum has been helping me to understand that I may need to let go of the idea that church will be the place in the future for groups to unite to help God's kingdom come on earth.

 

In my opinion only, I think God will use whatever vessels are available - churches, organizations, parachurch associations, communities, and individuals. Christianity says that it is only through the church that God accomplishes his will on earth, because it is only believers that are indwelt by the spirit of Christ. I simply don't believe this to be true. I believe that God is at work wherever we see what we might call "the gospel of Jesus" being lived out, whether people are believers in God and Christ or not. In fact, in Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats, the people that Jesus says are justified don't even recognize him. Such an idea is scandalous in the church. ;)

 

I, for one, would appreciate more talk about how PCs can unify to make a larger difference in the world than we can individually.

 

Me, too, Janet. But I would like it to include compassionate people who don't formally identify with the church or with Christianity.

 

Can you still keep talking about The Shack?

 

That would be okay with me, but, to be honest, while I'd be interested in hearing your and Dutch's thoughts, I don't know how much more I can contribute. To me, Mack has fallen down a rabbit's hole and lost all touch with reality. :D So talking about his journey at this point is, IMO, somewhat like discussing the pros and cons of the Mad Hatter. :lol: But I'll listen in and if I have something meaningful to contribute, I'll do so.

 

Warmest regards,

billmc

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Guest billmc

Bill,

Check out the new topic - Charter for Compassion! It's just what you said you wanted (I think).

 

Janet

 

Yes, Janet, it is EXACTLY this kind of thing that I was trying to point to with my stumbling words and inept phrases.

 

I havent fully read and searched that site yet, but, yes, for me it is getting at the questions: Why be a PC? What direction might PC be going and why? Why reform the church? What would a reformed church do? What would be its purpose? Is there a bigger picture and how does PC fit into that bigger picture?

 

Sure, I realize that going in this direction wont be for everyone. But I feel like whatever we might mean by God is doing something through compassionate people, that getting in touch with God is getting in touch with each other and that we, as humans, need to do this.

 

PC is a marvelous beginning, especially for people who come from a Christian culture or who desire to connect through that religion and culture. As Ive mentioned before, it can be a sort of launching pad. But, for me, the goal is not to be PC, but to be someone who says, We can and must make a difference in our world…before we have no more world.

 

My point is, if they renamed this "Charter for Christian Compassion", would they get the same kind of turnout and participation as what it appears they are aiming for?

 

Thanks so much for posting that link. Im going to look into it and see how I can get involved.

Edited by billmc
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