My experiences in a theologically

My experiences in a theologically liberal setting with a strong and ancient tradition, I can’t help but be changed – a progression both gradual and somewhat imperceptible. It is one thing to disagree with another or others concerning issues, ideas, or theories of all types, but another thing entirely to deny Christ in the other or others when I might hold a differing opinion.
We are seeking God. God is beyond our understanding, yet God has finagled a way so that we can know Him. We can never fully understand, yet we can know!
By the word of their testimony – they seek God; seek to understand God and the world. Their actions (for the most part, recognizing we humans are always fallible and always prone to mistakes) are generally consistent with their words. I cannot deny Christ in them; I cannot deny the Holy Spirit working within them to conform their lives to the image of Christ – freedom, peace, joy, and prosperity of the soul. I may think they are dead wrong and at this point in their understanding dangerous to the cause of Christ, but I cannot deny Christ in them! I cannot, even though they deny Christ in me.
I can ask where their passions lie! “Linking Isaiah’s allegory with our Lord’s vine and branches metaphor in tonight’s gospel, the warning is clear: you and I put ourselves in great danger when we abide in any other vine – whether person, issue, tradition, or theological conviction – as the source of our identity and purpose. There is only one vine in which to abide – our Lord.” (The Rev’d. Fred Anderson, pastor of the Madison Ave. Presbyterian Church, preacher for the William Reed Huntington Memorial Eucharist, September 2003) He spoke of many wild grapes that have been produced by the Church throughout history. Where does my passion lie? Within what vine do I abide? Within which do you? “Our disunity has produced more than simply bad wine.” Within the Episcopal Church and within Anglicanism, much bad wine is being produced, many wild grapes are growing. We are abiding in vines of theology, pride, power, “purity,” polity, piety, Biblicism, idolatry, etc. We are denying Christ in others from whom we hear their words of testimony and see the fruit of their lives and their claim of life in Christ. Anderson refers to his first professor of Ecumenics, as he touches on the issues that continue to divide us, especially at this time concern human sexuality, “President McCord regularly warned students, ‘If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always chose heresy. For as a heretic you are only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the Body of Christ. Choose heresy every time!'”
Here is a profound change in me! I would have always chosen against heresy (maybe not for schism per-say, but for expulsion) and would have denied Christ in others who did not hold a generally Evangelical theology. Now, I cannot deny Christ to others or in others with whom I disagree (who disagree with a certain theological vain), even though I may consider them heretics. I have moved from choosing a particular take on “purity of doctrine” ending is schism (expulsion), to choosing heresy. I see in part and I know in part, so who am I to judge others to the point of denying Christ in them when their words and deeds show a seeking after the things of Christ, a longing and desire for the Way of Christ. I may think they are dead wrong, and I may think their current ways of thinking or doing are dangerous to the cause of Christ, but it is not my prerogative to decide whether they do or do not have Christ!

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