Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Circle of Faith

Mike Kruse has an excellent post today titled "Polarity Management" in which he discusses ways to view issues using a 4-celled matrix. This model can help clarify how the positive and negative aspects of a polarizing issue can affect the dynamics of a group.

Mike writes:

"...The fact is that in most polarities, most of us tend to lean toward one pole or the other. We tend to be overly (if not exclusively) focused on the positive aspects of our preference and the negative aspects of the polar opposite. Throw together people leaning toward opposite poles and what too often happens is a power struggles to make one pole or the other prevail. The irony is that should either one win, they will likely kill the organization; just like valuing inhaling over exhaling..."

In other posts Mike has described a book that GAC was discussing called Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love by Eugene March, which seems to want extend the limits of belief to encompass as many people as possible. (Disclaimer -- I have not read the book, but am relying on reports by those who have). In any event, I am quite familiar with the concept of extending the boundaries, having spent many years trying to do just that, to the point where I was willing to accept just about any belief or even lack thereof as being equally valid. Over the past 30 years I have come to the realization that it DOES matter what I believe, and more to the point, how my beliefs are defined.

Reading Mike's post on Polarity Management brought out some things that I have been thinking about over the past few years that relate to the limits of our Christian Faith. I am not comfortable with "anything goes" as a paradigm for the Church, but neither am I comfortable with fellow Christians who can say with certainty that this person is clearly going to Hell while that person is clearly headed for Heaven.

A friend of mine uses a circle as a metaphor for describing the faith community. For those who need a quick refresher in geometry, a circle is defined by a central point and a radius.

If we acknowledge Jesus as the center, then the radius defines the limits of the Christian community for if there is an area defined by the center and the radius, then there must be an "inside" and an "outside."

Physicists recognize centrifugal force which tends to accelerate objects away from the center and centripetal force which draws objects toward the center.

Are we to be centrifugal Christians, pushing the boundaries? Or are we to be centripetal Christians, allowing ourselves to be drawn toward the center? I believe we should concern ourselves less with how wide our circle is and focus more on the center -- Jesus Christ -- who is calling us to come in closer.

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