There is No Single Version of Christianity or Any Religion
This is an excerpt from an article from Dr. David P. Gushee, a leading Christian ethicist who serves as distinguished university professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, chair of Christian social ethics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and senior research fellow at International Baptist Theological Study Center. It speaks to my experiences in my spiritual journey, which at eighty-five ended up focused in, but not limited to, the Presbyterian USA Christian denomination.
““There is no single version of Christianity or any religion.” Quote from Dr. Gushee.
This is the excerpt:
The debasement of U.S. right-wing Christianity is only baffling to those who have been exposed to a different understanding of what being a Christian is supposed to be about. You know, old-timers like me, who walked uninvited into a Southern Baptist church building in 1978 looking for something I did not know how to name, but whose name turned out to be Jesus Christ.
Over a four-day conversion experience, I learned enough from and through devout Christian people to be led into an encounter with Jesus himself. I was exposed to people whose demeanor was gentle, whose speech was clean and kind, whose integrity turned out to be rock solid, whose moral plumbline was the instruction offered in the New Testament, whose life purpose was to follow Jesus, and whose mission was to share the gospel with others. These were the people who led me to faith in Christ and who discipled me at the early stages of my walk with Jesus. They were not perfect. But they were recognizably and seriously Christian.
There were other versions of old-time, pre-Trump Christianity that I might not have liked as much but that were still very different from the cancerous thing that is spreading among white conservative Christians in America today. I was exposed to these other varieties as well. There was the smart, humane, post-Vatican II Catholicism in which I was raised, the charismatic Anglicanism of a girl I dated, the earnest social-service mainline Methodism of some friends of my parents, the doctrinaire Lutheranism of a few folks I knew, the passionate Black church faith of some of my friends from school.
My search brought me to study and experience many Christian denominations and even different world religions. I finally experienced a relationship with Jesus through friends who gave up their affluent life style to work in a non-denominational missionary organization, Campus Crusade for Christ. My journey has been enriched by all the sources and experiences of my search. No one has a monopoly on God and no one has “All the truth, nothing but the truth” even with the help of God. That would make us equal to God. As Paul said, “We see through the glass darkly.” And we all individually and collectively are vulnerable to the siren call of pride that blinds us to our own limits and cripples our ability to grow in love from “love your neighbor” to “love your enemy” to “love others as I have loved you.”