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Stickies... Point 5


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1. What problems might arise in a church community that has no dogmatic beliefs?


Dogma is a funny thing... it can be a very negative thing, but it can also bring people together. People have the ability to "bond" through dogmatic beliefs of several varieties, not always a good way mind you, but as a point of commonality. As a result, when you remove dogmatic beliefs and allow people more freedom of what they may choose for themselves (rather than the belief-set being dictated for the whole), it has the propensity to do one of two things:


1) Create a diverse community of respectful individuals who enjoy sharing in each other's unique beliefs and differences, and people become -less- likely to judge each other based on mutual respect, or:


2) The answer to your question: A community full of people who want to chase after each other for having the right and/or wrong beliefs. With no master-structure of dogma to follow, some people become even -more- judgmental because they believe that they hold "special knowledge" that no one else holds; They begin to press that on others, they put others down who don't get on board, and it really becomes a "no better, no worse" scenario.


Truthfully, no dogma at all can sometimes be just as bad as dogma. I only say that to play devil's advocate, because I am certainly Dogma's biggest thorn... however, I do believe it's less about the dogma itself or lack-there-of, and more about how people use whatever they believe in a good or bad manner.



2. How do we deal with our differences in a healthy and positive way?


Respect, plain and simple. If you respect someone, it creates a higher standard of treatment between people. When you hold respect for someone, you give that person the best of yourself in all ways, and you consider what they have to say to be in high value. I'll say more below...




3. What are some of the ways we can demonstrate our understanding of the “great commandment” when it comes to loving our neighbor?


To play on what I just mentioned above. I believe Love and Respect form an unbroken chain... love is primarily an emotion (as much as people may argue) and as a result it has the tendency to wax and wane. Even married individuals may not feel as much love for their spouse on one day or one moment as they will the next, and also the reverse.


So in the times when love may be difficult to feel, find, or choose... respect is what creates the unbroken bond. As stated above, when you respect someone, they get the best of you, it creates a high standard of treatment, and you place what they say and do in high regard. In addition, it can give you something to hold on to until you can grasp that concept of love again. If you maintain respect for your fellow man, love has a better chance of growing in time.


If you cannot respect the person behind a belief-set, apart from his or her beliefs, this is where the real problem comes into play. We honestly have to see "through" religion sometimes to get to the actual human being behind it all. We can hold respect for all people in a similar way despite beliefs if we can tear down exterior categories we place them in (race, religion, gender, education, financial status, job, and so on) and get back to the roots of commonality: We're all the same race of people, on the same planet, trying to do the same thing... understand our world and our existence.



4. Create a list of Christian values that you think are reflections of your faith today.


I prefer to focus on just plain "good" values, rather than place the label "Christian" on them. It is not right to make values proprietary. Besides, aside from "Love, Respect, and an Open Mind," I think I couldn't in good conscience sit here and create a big list of values that I think are reflections of faith. I really hesitate to judge anyone's faith, or -everyone's- faith, by marking down measurements of such.



5. Do you believe that you behave as a follower of Jesus most of the time; some of the time; or now and then?


As in... Are my actions always Godly? Of course not, we all fall, some more often than others and more significantly than others... this is a point of the TCPC I have trouble with, as I do not necessarily believe outward behavior is a tell-all standard for who is a follower of Jesus and who is not. I believe we risk severe judgment that is not warranted by claiming this. I believe the most heinous of criminals could have potentially been a follower of Jesus who strayed as far as humanly possible from the straight line... but I would not put myself in a place to judge this person's faith by label.


To answer the question more pointedly though... as I said, my actions are not always Godly. To that alone I'd place the label "some of the time" with a hopeful prospect of a future label "Most of the time".


But I do understand the principle behind what the TCPC has put forth in this point, just for the record. I do agree with it in theory, though not always in practicality.


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