TO A FRIEND - Part 4 - INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION IN THE CHURCH
Updated: Sep 18
To a friend who writes about a journey to / back into Eastern Orthodoxy. At this moment I am not posting the original blog post link to allow reasonable distance for those not connected to this matter. I may in the future if needed.
Dear friend and readers, This is a short post to cover and conclude some small matters that lead into another. INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION IN THE CHURCH I have written about this before at least in terms of Discipline in the Church. You can read about that here but otherwise come with me.
So… (somewhat short answers to address passing questions and discussion) Does a baptism without personal faith include one in the spiritual body of Christ? No. It does not, whether one is an adult or a child. Does faith in the Lordship of Jesus, his death and resurrection include one in the spiritual body of Christ? Yes, whatever the background. Just Jesus. The disciple should be baptised in obedient faith, but it is by grace through faith one is saved (Eph 2:8 – 9) Does a person walking away from faith/ Church because of biblical doctrine negate biblical doctrine? No, of course not. God is not subject to humanity; humanity is subject to God. Blaming God, or even the Church because some people decide to disobey to remain unrepentant is to dishonour God, no matter how well intentioned you are. Even Peter was well intentioned with Jesus, but Jesus called him Satan because “you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt 16L23) All too often, especially through Western individualism we have come to think of individuals having a singularly valid voice as that of the word of God. In actual fact, Jesus makes it clear that his teaching will divide and drive some away (Matt 10:34 - 39) due to the hardness of the hearts, not draw them in close (Eph 4:30 - 31)
Do Churches still have to grow and become more Christ like?
Of course, that is because you and I are in it. None of us are perfect. We, however, can choose to either throw ourselves into beautifying the bride of Christ or bashing her.
Many years ago, I was confronted by the Spirit in this and have dedicated myself to being part of the ‘beauty team’. I fail so often in that journey but the Bride is Christ’s and I love her. Side note: The Incarnation and your hate of Christmas In your post you note a stronger emphasis on the incarnation of Christ in the Christmas period rather than the commonly emphasised 'birth of Christ' language in many Protestant traditions. I absolutely agree that the deity and incarnation of Christ is at times an under emphasised message. However, given I have NEVER met a person in Protestant tradition that 'hates' Christmas (one or two misguided about it's origins but we can mainly blame Facebook for that) Maybe, just maybe the issue in part of this is simply yours. I have no doubt countless millions feel the power of the words of one of our most famous Carols "Hark the Herald Angels sing". "Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel!"