The Latest Example Of Why "Right Belief" Is Harmful
Friday, February 08, 2013
A few days ago I wrote a post discussing the role of "belief" in emergent faith. And in that post, I stated that "right belief" is an impotent and useless measure by which to determine authentic faith. Belief in ideas and notions is not transformative. But the embrace and practice of Love is transformative. Insisting that people believe in the same things we do is not transformative. But loving people fully in their diversity is transformative. . . . In fact, "belief" can be an obstacle to Love rather than a facilitator of it, especially when a "non-believer" is encountered. Belief is too often a tool of division, not a tool of Oneness. Centuries of human history bear witness to this sad fact.
"Right belief" and insistence upon it can be extremely harmful, and can contribute to brokenness. This was painfully illustrated yesterday when a pastor in the conservative Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church had to apologize for praying at an interfaith vigil in Newtown, Connecticut because it is against his denomination's rules to pray with "non-believers". From the report:
A Lutheran pastor has apologized after being chastised by his denomination's leader for offering a prayer at an interfaith vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Pastor Rob Morris, who leads the Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, violated the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's rule against taking part in joint worship services, said the synod's president, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison.
Participation could be seen as endorsing "false teaching" because some among the diverse group of religious leaders at the vigil hold beliefs different from those of synod. . . .
One of the victims of the shooting was a young congregant of Morris' church.
In an open letter posted online, Harrison wrote that because of "the presence of prayers and religious readings" and the fact that "other clergy were vested for their participation," the event was a "joint worship with other religions."
"I could draw no conclusion other than that this was a step beyond the bounds of practice allowed by the Scriptures," Harrison wrote. "There is sometimes a real tension between wanting to bear witness to Christ and at the same time avoiding situations which may give the impression that our differences with respect to who God is, who Jesus is, how he deals with us, and how we get to heaven, really don't matter in the end."
After apologizing for "pushing Christian freedom too far," the pastor then defended his presence at the vigil as "an act of community chaplaincy."
This is yet another example of how it matters more to some Christians what is in one's head as regards "rules" rather than what is in one's heart as regards love. This pastor, in the same fashion as Jesus, understood that to love his human neighbors was more important than obeying denominational rules.
Unfortunately, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church prefers the rules over love, all because some of the pastors and other religious leaders who participated at the vigil for the slain children were seen as "non-believers."