We like fun around here. We believe in God and would not do what displeases him for the world, but we love fantasy books, movies, and games. For a time there we deliberately gave many of them up while we worked out if we were being led to drop our 'toys.' Finally came to the conclusion we weren't, as long as we stayed in bounds. We have taught our children what scripture says about witchcraft and, in detail, why 'magic' as opposed to petitioned 'miracles' may not be sought by saints. [May cover this in more detail later] We also covered the theories of unusual natural gifts from God. (the Harry Potter series uses this grey area a lot, but also incorporates other worldview elements making this bit of fun fruitful ground for discussion of what is and isn't in bounds according to scripture.) Such a perspective makes us a little weird to many serious brothers and sisters in faith, as well as to the mainstream who don't understand the scruples we live by. For us, even playing video games involves a few limits and several discussions of what is and isn't wise to pretend. We seek not to cross our interpretation of Christian ethics, the lines set by our beliefs.
For example, we see nothing wrong in dressing up in neat costumes any time of year. We see Halloween as an excuse to share one or two , but we don't celebrate Halloween as such. We'd be just as happy dressing up for a sci-con or Renaissance fair.
Granted Becka's starry tunic this year looked kinda 'wizardly,' especially when she added a star-covered medieval hat going to Busch Gardens, but she'll be able to wear it all year (at home). Its a combination of several 'historic' patterns she liked done 'fantasy.' We still hope to make a dress in a more expensive fabric sometime this winter. William wanted (& got) a proper cowboy hat this year and dressed western most wherever he went this October. He has Jedi pjs in winter & summer fabrics that we made him, but these ARE regular night wear for him so he didnt want to wear them outside.
They didn't go trick or treating in their neat outfits, though they got offered candy when we went grocery shopping etc. I didnt make a fuss about that, though people got the honest answer when asked what we intended to do on Halloween. (nothing). We sent a few cards, drank hot chocolate, & ate some candy. We just didn't make a big fuss over the day. That was the line.
The fuss we saved for Becka's big day, which happens to be about the same time of year. I am happy to report she loved her dolphin cake, cds, perfumes, mirror, and Celtic tissue box.
We do acknowledge Reformation Day, All Hallow's Eve, & All Saints Day but we haven't worked out what we ought to do with these occasions. Right now we've chosen to remember these times by praying regularly through these days for Christ's persecuted church, unity for those of us in Christ's body, wisdom for us all to choose His ways in these decadent times, & mercy upon the good souls who have passed ahead of us.
Reformation day has my attention lately.
Another blogger described Reformation day (aka Halloween) as a success of evil against the true church because of the great division created that day. I am sorry about the division too but I don't honestly believe it was the enemy who won the war over Reformation (though he certainly got some battles).
I truly believe many of the Protestant sects, and the populations they influenced, got a lot closer to God than they would have had the errors that were building in Martin Luther's day continued unchallenged. For good and ill, reformation changed the world & a church that needed changing.
I also believe the Catholic church benefitted greatly from the free discussion that followed the break. Reformation brought real change to the original body too as the apologists and thinkers of both sides studied the views of the other. Reformation encouraged a fresh look at old practices and a substantial purging of ungodly elements. Believers like John Hus are better understood and much more appreciated since these changes.
If only ths growth hadn't been accompanied by so many persecutions of believers of both stripes. Jews and pagans also suffered once the idea of permantly 'purifying' the world of 'wrong believers' took hold in Europe, for it went in all directions. That was not Biblical, and it was not a good witness for our loving Lord.
Jesus loves sinners, He just hates sin. This make sense given how much He loves us. Sin kills. Sin destroys. He gave Himself to cure of us of that awful disease in all its forms.
Since it is still the Halloween season, its fair to mention that Christ loves actual witches. He just hates the witchcraft and other sins that keep them apart from fellowship with Him. Witchcraft is actually a form of idolatry as well as paganism. Followers of it look to their own knowledge, skills, or cleverness to gain what they want and need, instead of looking to God. This is why it is a serious sin, but also why being too greedy for gain & depending on material possessions/people of influence/your own schemes to gain what you want was called just as bad.
Since Christ loves sinners, we should all understand that Christ loves 'heretic' believers too. (whatever variety you think that is) They may not be heretics to Him. Or, to put it another way, we may all be. None of us follow perfectly even in what we think we know. Many of us likely hold incorrect ideas about His purpose in our lives, His divinity, and so on. It is not wise to judge others walk with Christ, though fair to teach what we believe to be the truth, as long as it is done in love. Hey, we might be wrong about 'an important doctrinal point' too! If they are wrong, but put Jesus first, Christ will take care of the serious errors in His own good time.
The books of martyrs, both Protestant and Catholic, hold some very sad entries of believers killing one another over doctrinal differences. May it never happen again! There are plenty willing to kill us all (and the Jews too, come to that). May such never be able to shelter behind our doctrinal differences and pretend to be one of the disciples of Love Incarnate!
Paul speaks only of exiling(excommunicating) those from the church who will not not follow the gospel. Jesus warned that we would be persecuted and betrayed as we followed our Shepherd. He didn't give any orders about persecuting back. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Jesus Christ did not kill when He came 2000 years ago. Judgement will come but He didnt tell us to do it. He told us NOT to judge, let alone carry out sentence. Our orders are to share and live the gospel we have chosen to believe. We are not called to jihad or to judge unbelievers in any manner. That is God's job and the Almighty is well able to do it!
Where do I stand?
I love unity but can't bring myself to plump for Catholicism or Protestantism in its entirety. [Which makes me a Protestant by default, I'm told.] I love Christ's Holy church in all her forms but how can I choose between family? Even in all love, I would have to think that one side or the other had all the important doctrines right. I don't. I believe there is a purgatory and in the sanctity of sacraments, but I also believe in personal salvation as taught by Messianics and Evangelic sects. I believe we should study God's word daily, prayerfully, for ourselves, rather than having it interpreted first according to tradition. Nevertheless, we should study the lives and sayings of known saints when we can. I think immersion baptism gets the point across better than sprinkles. I don't think we should worship Mary. I do believe we can ask saints in heaven to pray with and for us, including Mary. I believe there is an understanding God has given of himself to every people, and therefore we can learn from other faith's understanding of Him. However, I am convinced Christ is the perfect fufilment of all those partials. He is the Great Spirit, The only Ascended One, The Tao, The Truth. We should seek to empty our limited lives of selfish desires that we may be filled by the excellence of God, the Infinite Almighty One, and wonder at the love that allows His perfection to put up with our frailties.I agree with the Nicene creed. I don't accept the Book of the Mormon...and, yes, I have read it. I think there are true believers who are officially Mormons though. I also have respect for Eastern Orthodox believers, the Coptic Egyptians, and other variations that I know even less about. There are a lot of ways to appreciate God. I don't think unity can come until the Holy Spirit gives further insight to the Bride of what is and isn't critical to faith. All believers must follow their conscience to live properly before God.
and, in practice, this means.......
I think I am right in being hospitable to all those who claim to love Jesus, whether I think their doctrines are right or not. However, the NT epistles say I should cease speaking to those who claim to be believers who continually show bad fruit, plainly do not follow even the most obvious reading of the Holy Scriptures, and refuse counsel on it (at least as believers).
I seek to be hospitable & peaceable with unbelievers too but do not 'hang' with them when I know they are engaging in active sin. I do not 'party' with them, but I might share dinner or a chat. I like people generally. I don't believe God is unhappy with this. He cares too. Besides, if I never spoke with nonbelievers how should I ever witness with my life?
Yet, I must not shun family for non-family. I should seek fellowship of fellow believers when I can...so there's another balancing act.
Lines, lines and more lines not to cross.
How much discernment is needed to live as a Christian!
No, I do not believe I should judge you whatever you are or do. An affectionate temperament helps, but this isn't always easy for me either. I ask you not to judge me. If you don't think I'm right about something, speak in love or not at all.
Meantime, I'll keep walking that strait and narrow line ~ hanging on to Love's hand.