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Love One Another

December 18, 2008

I was meaning to link to Tim Wade’s blog sooner or later…not for any devious reason or anything, but I had read an article by him suggesting that “Mormons are better Christians” in certain distinct ways. And then as I read his blog, I saw that he talks about Mormons a lot. He’s not a member and never was (so he has a different outlook than I ever could), but precisely because he’s not a member, he provides interesting insights.

I was looking at what I could talk about with his article here…and I realized that these weren’t necessarily good topics for me to discuss, because many of them hinge on the stuff I never cared about. Sanctification? It’s good for an theological discussion — sometimes — but I really don’t care. And although I recognize that missionary work is just one way the church becomes an impressive organization, I am wary of the spiritual goals of it, and I am outright disturbed by Mr. Wade’s vision of a Southern Baptist Convention — 60 million strong as opposed to the LDS church’s mere 13 million — adoption of two-year-full-time missionary work. Dealing with enough Baptists already, I shudder at the thought of what it would be like if they were called to be missionaries, when many are already annoyingly forward with their religion already.

He had a newer article, though, called From Protestantism With Love…and of course, I was intrigued by this idea of love as a signifier of personal character (which improves the persuasiveness of a belief).

…I believe Mormons would see love in a way that few people ever define it. It would be a love that emphasized the passion of God the Father for His children, given apart from a religious agenda. It would be a love based on the Bible’s presentation of God’s love for his creation, and his desire to redeem that creation from the sin that separates them.

I believe the emphasis would focus on the work of the cross, and not on the work of Paul, or Barnabas, or any other human being who played little more than a cameo role in the history of Christianity. It would be a love that recognized the individual’s need to be loved, without asking him to do more than admit that he was a sinner in need of savior; love that offered hope not in the temporary, but defined hope by those things are eternal – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, ECT.

I presume that Tim believes Protestantism’s claims are at  least somewhat more veritable (or at the very least attractive) because of the love he sees as a result of it that he claims is not quite as prevalent in the LDS faith.

I mean no offense when I say that in my thirty three years as Christian, I have never witnessed one Mormon sharing this type of love. My relationships with members of the LDS Church have always been at arms length, and always came with an agenda.

Interesting. I feel bittersweet about this, because 1) I can recognize this agenda-type love in the church but 2) I also see more agenda-less love in the church than outside. I don’t think Protestant love is as pure as Tim thinks it to be. 3) I don’t think that Baptists or any other group has a capitalization on love and service and 4) love, in the end, seems not to be dependent on a group membership but on personal character. So, it doesn’t necessarily pay respect to the group one is member of.

…But…as I’ve read before, others have used this idea of ethos…personal character…as an initial measuring stick for ideas espoused.

Ooh, I feel split now. Between talking about personal character or an idea I hinted earlier — that I disagree that certain protestant denominations, because of doctrinal differences, have any more unconditional type of love.

I’ll talk the former.

Question: can’t we learn to become better love…rs…(not lovers…but…argh!) and servants without a church? It seems more like an issue of strategic orientation instead of spirituality. People just have to come together, whatever they believe, and then say: this is what we’ll do. On a personal level, this should be easy if one has the time to introspect.

I’d like to think that I serve others not because of any one external belief system but because *I* am an individual who cares for others. And that no matter where I am in life and what particulars I follow, service and love will be a core.

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2 Comments
  1. Andrew,

    Thanks for linking to my article. A couple of points to consider. First, the idea of SBC missionaries coming to my door like the Mormons is indeed quite disturbing. I would be satisfied if the Southern Baptists quit using their mission programs as political bargaining chips.

    Second, is it impossible to be a people who can become more proficient at loving without the church. The people for whom Christ has died, and accepted his gree gift of salvation, are the church. We can not divorce ourselves from this reality once we accept the gift.

    The obvious next question is can we be become people who love better without having to gather together each week in assembly. The answer is a resounding NO. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not forsake the assembly of the Church. Why? Because individually, we are part of a body – the body of Christ – made for good works as a collective. The church is an extension of Christ himself to continue the building of the Kingdom of God to the glory of his Father. I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not have the ability to build the Kingdom of God by myself.

    God bless you,
    Tim Wade

  2. Thanks, Tim, for replying to my entry so quickly!

    I think that through this comment, I can try to talk about something else I wanted to say.

    I’m coming form the perspective that we can love not only without the church, but without the language of the church or the framework of the church. For example, you say, “The people for whom Christ has died, and accepted his free gift of salvation, are the church. We cannot divorce ourselves from this reality once we accept the gift.”

    But this seems rather cold and unaccepting for those who don’t accept this gift. This in and of itself doesn’t seem very loving. It’s as if we are speaking of two very different things (we probably are), but in that case, I’d say the religious love is off-putting.

    Without the church, we come to this conclusion that people…that’s what we have. This life is important, and the people in this life are worth caring for. That is a precious reality to accept too.

    See, with the church, you gather each week. With a general appreciation for humanity, you gather every day. So, being part of the body of Christ is a rather exclusionist club in comparison with being a part of a collective body of humanity.

    My goal is at odds with yours, I must respectfully admit. The faithful speak of building the Kingdom of God to the glory of his Father, but I see that this is generally at the expense of *this life* and *this world* and *this people*. So, I first wonder — who is doing a better job of love as Kingdom-building? And then I wonder secondly — who is doing a better job of love as human and life-affirmation?

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