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March 25, 2008

What is ‘Open’ Christianity

This is from a discussion I had that was started by my post, ‘Open’ Christianity kills me

So what exactly is open Christianity? Youtube is down

“Open” Christianity is basically the belief that God is whatever you want Him to be. Here’s a quote from a leading supporter of ‘Open’ Christianity.

OPEN CHRISTIANITY invites you to love God and your neighbor as Jesus did, and to let go of any religious doctrine that blocks love’s way. Open Christianity invites you to follow Jesus’ way of loving even the unlovable, without needing to believe the unbelievable. It looks at Christianity as a living, changing language of the heart and soul. – Jim Burklo

The problem for many Christians is that Christianity is about Truth. That God is perfect, holy and unchanging. But open Christianity allows for personal interpretations and liberties that the scriptures (aka God’s Word) don’t allow.

When you watch the video, you’ll see the Hospital Chaplin hem and haw at answering some tough questions. Her problem is that she doesn’t want to admit that we are never “good enough” for God. That our only saving grace is that Christ Jesus has taken the punishment of God’s wrath in our place, and that it was only because he was good enough for God, that his sacrifice could absorb the wrath we deserved.

So open christianity is applying the principles of christian love but with no belief in the supreme being or the scriptures.

Close, Open Christianity seems to think God is ONLY love (no wrath or judgment) and that the scriptures are merely guidelines and moral examples (rather than absolute truth of who God is)

It’s important to read the Bible with the right perspective. The bible isn’t a moral guide book, but the story of Jesus. The key to understanding while reading the scripture is to look to see how it points to Jesus. The old testament (OT) looks forward to Jesus. it demonstrates that despite having the ‘Law’ they (god’s people) still could not obey God perfectly. The new testament (NT) shows that despite being unable to obey, God still accepts us because God the Son (Jesus) took our punishment and God the Father sees us as he sees Jesus – perfect and holy.

But this new righteousness that Jesus gives us is not free to everyone, but only those God the Father has chosen to give it to. And his decision is His alone and not based on anything we do or do not do. But those who He has given it to, show their gratitude in behaving like Jesus in humility and charity and love.

Read this quote from Jim Burklo’s blog to fully understand what Open Christianity is…

Since The Center for Progressive Christianity came into being in 1994, it has succeeded in widely spreading the term “progressive Christian” around the world. It embraces a non-literalistic approach to the Bible, a pluralistic understanding of the faith in relation to other religions, openness to metaphorical and non-supernaturalistic interpretations of Christian tradition, and commitment to practicing the faith to make the world a better place…

…I’m a progressive Christian who

* keeps the faith and drops the dogma
* experiences God more than I believe in any definition of God
* thinks that my faith is about deeds, not creeds
* takes the Bible seriously because I don’t take it literally
* thinks spiritual questions are more important than religious answers
* cares more about what happens in the war-room and the board-room than about what happens in the bedroom
* thinks that other religions can be as good for others as my religion is good for me
* goes to a church that doesn’t require you to park your brain outside before you come inside
* thinks that God is bigger than anybody’s idea about God
* thinks that God evolves

Do you have any “elevator speeches” you’d like to add to this list?

Compare that to what John MacArthur says about the Emerging Church…

Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief.
? Dr. John MacArthur

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8 comments

  • At 3:21 pm on March 25, 2008, Paul commented:

    The problem with dogmatic Christianity is whose dogma are you to believe? The problem with open Christianity is where is the truth? Wholeness takes in both Scripture and experience not placing man’s dogma above Scripture nor placing moral experience above scripture, but treating each as feet upon the path of Righteousness.

    While I can agree with Jim Burklo in part he is still wrong as much, or even more, than right. Dogmas created vast errors and spilt churches, each proclaiming to be there only right teaching. Jesus fought the dogmas of the Pharisees and the scribes to bring Truth to the people. Yet without the discipline of sound doctrine we can be led astray. The problem is to balance dogma and experience so to be in the Discipline of Jesus and learn to avoid self serving ideals of zealots.

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  • At 3:47 pm on March 25, 2008, archshrk commented:

    Dogma (the plural is either dogmata or dogmas, Greek δόγμα, plural δόγματα) is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. While in the context of religion the term is largely descriptive, outside of religion its current usage tends to carry a pejorative connotation — referring to concepts as being “established” only according to a particular point of view, and thus one of doubtful foundation. This pejorative connotation is even stronger with the term dogmatic, used to describe a person of rigid beliefs who is not open to rational argument.

    Religious dogmata, when properly conceived, reach back to proofs other than themselves, and ultimately to faith. Perhaps the pinnacle of organized exposition of theological dogma is the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas, who proposed this relationship between faith and objection: “If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections — if he has any — against faith”

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  • At 8:11 pm on August 30, 2009, The Man Who Knows commented:

    You aren’t Christians at all and you haven’t created anything new. You are all Unitarians. Unitarians believe what they want. Thats all you are. Nothing Christian about you. Christianity has a set of beliefs. You don’t adhere to those so you aren’t Christian. Quit trying to fool yourselves into thinking you are. Either repent and believe or be a Unitarian.

    [Reply]

  • At 6:52 am on August 31, 2009, archshrk commented:

    I’m not sure who you (The Man Who Knows) are railing against. If you read my post carefully, you’ll see I’m critical of this so called “Open” Christianity. But if I wasn’t clear, please show me where I confused you so I may clarify.

    If, however, you’re simply talking to any “Open” Christians who stop by, then I would suggest more honey and less vinegar. Also, keep in mind that “Christian” has taken on many definitions, some rightly, some wrongly. So to be clear you should always explain what those beliefs are (or at least key points)

    When “Christians” argue over infant baptism and predestination, it’s hard to say which beliefs makes someone a Christian. But yes, there are certain beliefs that are necessary to a proper worship of our Lord and King – including the Trinity, the Atonement and the Resurrection. If you don’t believe these truths, then you’re simply worshiping a false god – one made in your own image.

    [Reply]

  • At 12:24 pm on November 3, 2009, Steve commented:

    Faith without works is void, and the observe is also summarily true. It’s about Deeds AND Creeds, and eliminating one in favor of the other becomes a selfish viewpoint of “The God You Want” over “The God That Is”.

    God is what God is. As it is written, “I Am.” The proof, as it were, is in Scripture, and is sound enough that despite hundreds, if not thousands of years of abuse and attack from countless people far smarter, and far dumber than most of us, it remains unchanged.

    From a scientific standpoint, if you wanted a true Universal Constant, it is God’s unending capacity for love for those whom his Son has chosen when they have opened their hearts and surrendered to His will.

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  • At 3:59 am on November 29, 2010, alexlondon commented:

    What strikes me, reading this and the comments, is how far this argument seems (“you’re not a christian!” etc) from the biblical Jesus who reached out beyond his own Jewish community – talking about good Samaritans, for example, and even from St Paul who simultaneously codified a lot of the “dogmata” in the bible, while expressly reaching out to gentiles. I don’t think either of them would be remotely impressed with the cliquey name calling that has ensued.

    None of us know, for sure, what “God is”, and we should all bear a heap of humility in recognition of that. It does strike me – and I come from a fairly high-church Anglican background, not a particularly progressive one – that the focus on love over wrath is more in keeping with the new testament than the old, and the focus on acts in this world rather than rewards in the next is substantially more productive, even if interpreted through “judgment” because we will be “judged” on our deeds.

    Open and Progressive Christian voices add a lot of value by promoting these views, and also for the extent to which they are brave enough to be honest about their own doubt. Certainty and faith are very different things.

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  • At 6:32 am on December 2, 2011, Kevin commented:

    “while elevating feelings or blind trust ”

    What Emergents does MacArthur know? Blind trust my booty! lol

    Seriously, it’s a reaction against too many set in stone ideas by people who have parroted them but never questioned them. As an example: Dispensationalism, which John MacArthur is a stalwart of.

    [Reply]

  • At 8:30 pm on June 7, 2014, Marsha commented:

    OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE NO REPECT FOR JESUS.
    HE SAID IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.
    HE ALSO SAID UNLESS YOU REPENT YOU WILL LIKEWISE PERISH.
    BY THE WAY JESUS IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A JEW.

    [Reply]

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