Western Christians are all heretics!

Lets face it, every Christian is a heretic in some way.

Perhaps you think that "Jesus was born as a mere (non-divine) man, was supremely virtuous and that he was adopted later as Son of God" by the descent of the Spirit on him. Heretic! That is called adoptionism.

Perhaps you think Jesus was created by God. Heretic! That is called Arianism.

Think Jesus had a divine side and a separate human side? You heretical Nestorianist!

Think that humans have a divine soul that is trapped in a body? Gnostic!  

Think icons are idols to be destroyed? Iconoclasm was deemed heretical by Nicea II in 787.

Ever talk about the Trinity is like water in that it can be three things (solid, liquid or gas) but is still one thing? Modalism

Think the trinity is like an egg where there are three different parts to the whole? I ought to trump you up on charges of Partialism!

I could go on. We are all heretics by someone elses (past or present) understanding of what is orthodox.

So before you or I begin to argue and condemn a fellow Christ follower we view as unorthodox or heretical or holds views that are "counter to the word of God", slow down and breath and perhaps you too will see that we all are heretical in some form or fashion but that does not mean they are evil/bad/horrible/jerks who desire nothing more than to destroy the church and blaspheme against God. 

It could just be that everyone is trying the best they can to describe the indescribable. 

High, moral, or holy - not middle

Cornel West was gave an interview with Salon which was one of the more interesting and resonating comments on President Obama. Dr. West is one of those people that I would love to study under if ever given the chance. The main reason this would be an amazing opportunity is not only because I am drawn to prophetic people, but because of the way he uses language. 

Although Dr. West is speaking about President Obama, I feel this sentiment is also true about the Church and us in leadership in the Church:

"He [President Obama] doesn't realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn't just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you're going to show courage and vision."

The UMC has stood in the middle ground for a while now on a number of issues, mostly out of fear of losing members or resources in our congregations. Sometimes the middle ground is the right place to be. It is safe and provides a place for discernment and even can be a place of love. And it is these positives of the middle ground that many of us (myself included) are tempted to stake our tent on this ground.

But the middle ground is not what the church was built on. The middle ground is not where Moses encountered the burning bush. While the Hebrews walked through the middle ground of the parted Red Sea, the Egyptians were drowned in the middle ground. Elijah did not hear the still small voice of God on the middle ground. Jesus did not walk the middle ground toward the cross.

I pray that I may be one who does not linger too long on the middle ground but stands on holy ground.

Even if I stand alone.

Maybe we are just standing wrong

When I go the ocean I notice there are two kinds of people. There are the people who in the waves and look out over the vast ocean. They see the waves come in and they take in the greatness of the ocean and they seem to get a sense that they are very very small. Standing looking at the ocean is humbling and we are awestruck when we do. It is important to look at the ocean and face the mystery of the sea. But facing the ocean also comes at a price. You miss seeing the beauty of the land behind you. Which brings me to the other type of person I see at the ocean. 

These folk stand in the waves and turn their back to the ocean and look at the magnificent beach and skyline of the land. It is amazing to see how the earth's features seem to be shaped by a carpenter's plane. The roughness of the rocks that shape the shore become smooth and those same rocks are now tiny specks wedged in between their toes as sand. The sound of the ocean behind and the breeze at their back they take in the great beauty, but turning your back on the ocean comes at a price. You miss seeing the great mystery of the ocean behind you. Which may be why many people prefer to face the ocean. 

But when we stand in the ocean and face the shore or the sea, we put ourselves in a position of great vulnerability. Not only do we miss the other half of life when we choose a direction to face, but when your shoulders are parallel to the waves you are susceptible of being knocked over by the waves.

Being knocked over by the waves of life is perhaps rooted in the way we stand, our posture. Which may be why so many religions talk about having or taking a good posture. If our natural inclination is to either face the ocean or the shore, the spiritual life teaches us to turn our posture so we are 90 degrees - able to see the sea and shore. This is also a posture we are more able to take the one coming waves without being knocked over.

We do not turn our back on that which we know (the shore) and we do not turn our backs on that which we do not know (the sea). We take the posture of being able to see both the known and unknown.