Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drawing and Quartering Christ

The American Restoration Movement. Produced the Disciples of Christ, the Churches of Christ, the International Churches of Christ, and probably a number of other "creatively" named regional variants.

Mission: Unity amongst Christians. Yes, that was the mission. Then history happened and down south in CofC land things got rather grim and self-righteous. And today the majority of CofC churches and schools could use a squirrel or two set loose in the building.

Out of the surprisely numerous CofC groups to be found on Facebook, at least two have prominently displayed in their descriptions: "We are in NO WAY affiliated with the denomination known as the United Churches of Christ."

That makes me rather sad. And not just because the only way I see myself ever belonging to another Church of Christ is if it happens to have "United" stuck in front of it.

The idea of the Restoration Movement was UNITY. And God knows I don't want to see the CofC running exactly as it ran in the mid 1800s, but for Pete's sake, there were a number of good, excellent, and worthy principles hanging around. Why should those be abandoned? And abandoned just for the sake of some pig-headed self-righteousness. And it's not just unity that has been abandoned, any attempts at respect and kindness seem to have been thrown out with it. It's not just that others are mistaken, why their very faith and intention must also be attacked. (Should I even begin to wonder what happened to rationalism. Koo-koo, rationalism, where did you go?)

The CofC could be a great organization. It's structured to be flexible and to respond to the needs of people at a local level. There are tons of good people who call it home. The original movement emphasized individual study and the freedom of the individual conscience. I want to see the CofC live up to it's potential, and I quietly rejoice when I see CofC individuals struggling to be honest to themselves and their own beliefs and still maintain a truly loving attitude toward others. I might even loudly rejoice when I hear of CofC institutions, such as Pepperdine, welcoming progressive Christian groups like Soulforce, onto their campus for dialogue.

But for the product of a Movement that started with the goal of uniting people, the majority of CofCs seem incredibly interested in cloistering themselves off from everyone else. You are not my brother, for you use an instrument. You are not my sister, for you dare to think you may speak. You are not related to me, because you find value in the Orthodox, and value in the Catholics, and value in the Buddha, and value in Hinduism, and embrace a Muslim woman as a precious sister.

Yes, Church of Christ, you are in fact affiliated with the United Church of Christ. (Check out the last word in both names.) And maybe you could learn a bit from them.

I'll go back to my corner and read about the Buddha.

1 comment:

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I often complain, regarding my own religious community, that for a religion that places high value on respect, community, and mutual support, we suck at all of them.

My sympathies.