Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.
Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.
These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.
As I heard about the recent article in the Outllook on the Beaver-Butler declaration in response to the 2008 actions of the General Assembly,and then the declaration itself - I was stunned. I appreciate their prayerful response to decisions they find objectable and incongruent with their understanding of Scripture. What I can't fathom is the totality of the statement against worship with Jews and Muslims. I am not going to insinuate anti-Semitism or anti-Islamicism. That would be counter to their claim.
Their claim rests on the fact that though we do worship the same God, both Jews and Muslims do not recognize Jesus or the Holy Spirit as part of the triune God-head we look to as the source of our grace and salvation.
What an amazing understanding and belief to share with two other major religions! To be children of Abraham together! To bow down to and revere the same God! The God of our fathers, the God of their fathers! Can't we worship that God together? Can't we celebrate or love and reverence for our shared God? Isn't that a bigger similarity than our not all accepting Jesus as God?
We can hold to who we are as Christians - as believers in a triune God. As believers in the divinity of Jesus, without compromising that. And we can worship together with Jews and Muslims to God who we all believe in. We don't have to give up our separate worships, but there is no limitation of worshiping God with anyone.
How can we as Christians ever hope to achieve the kingdom of God here on earth - to live as the prince of peace has taught us to - if we exclude encounters with others unless they are in 100% agreement with us?
So you have to be Christian first before we can begin to lift each other up?
So they would not have worshiped with Jesus (he was a Jew!)? That's a stretch I know but it begs the questions of why we rely so heavily on the books of Paul which are interpretive of the Gospels, and not directly on the Gospels - the words in Red - when making these statements?
No. Jesus did not say "worship with other religions" but Jesus used a Samaritan as an example (he could have only used Jews that conformed to his religion) and so many other times he reaches out to others who's beliefs or lifestyles (the woman at the well) run counter to the culture he was a part of.
If we are ever to realize peace on earth, we are going to need to step past those things that divide us, though they are a risk, because they are the right thing to do and what God calls us to do. We are called to understand and welcome others where they are, not where we are.
If we require others to pass our litmus test, and limit our response to the Gospel to converting others so they might be saved - instead of living a life worthy of replicating - giving without an expectation of receiving - we are never going to stop the ongoing us and them war we are constantly stuck in.
This statement comes from someone within a divided denomination that spends more time arguing and less time living the Gospel. Imagine what would happen if we got past that?