As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Western Christianity and Eastern Religions

While proctoring a test today, I pulled out a book on Native American Spirituality. I've read some on the subject and learned nothing new in this book. But while reading, I was reminded of some of those elements that attracted me both to the supposed spirituality of the Celts and that of the Amerindian. Namely, I like that there is no division between their secular and religious life. Their religion is not just what they believe, it is a way to live.

I see much Western embracing of Eastern (and primitive) philosophy/religion, and an accompanying reaction against it by conservative Christians. For instance, Orthodox friends of mine disparage it, not because it is evil, but because it is an unecessary addition to the complete Faith handed down by the apostles. Actually, I am inclined to agree with them. I am more concerned with Protestant churches and their reaction to oriental interest.

So Western Christians, who find that Western Christianity has lost the all-encompassing nature of the faith, try to incorporate that element from the East, although I'm not sure they know they are doing this. The problem is that, instead of just correcting the lack and retaining the Truth (Triune God, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, etc...), they are adding elements which dilute or even obscure the Gospel. In trying to make Western Christianity whole again, they are making it sick. But I think this is because they have misdiagnosed the weakness of the Western church. It's kind of like the girl who is really looking for the love of a distant father in the arms of another man.

What is most interesting to me is that not all Western Christians have this lack. My parents, for instance, are about as Western as they can be. Yet they chose to incorporate their faith entirely into their lives. Thus, we woke with prayers, we worked with prayers, we constantly sang psalms and hymns, we blessed everything and asked for God's Hand in all our works, we read the Bible and prayed every night, we asked for angels to guard our car when we traveled and prayed spiritual barriers around our property each morning. Though possessing some of what I deem to be theological error (no saints or sacraments, for instance); my parents deliberately created a life which was more God-filled, more Christian than just about any other living person I know. There was no separation between our religious and secular lives. One flowed from the other and mandated our actions.

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