Last night while reading a book titled THE OXFORD INKLINGS: LEWIS, TOLKIEN AND THEIR CIRCLE I came across a couple of statements that grabbed my attention. Referring to C.S. Lewis, author Colin Duriez noted “He came to value the fact that many of his academic friends were professing Christians, albeit of different persuasions” (p. 124). On the next page, referring to the Inklings, Duriez reported “they were all Christians of various hues” (p.125).
Those observations reminded me of something I have been saying in my teaching the past several years. When I was teaching Bible at Hope International University my classes included students from a variety of churches and denominations. The same was true more recently when I was teaching Bible at Amarillo High School and College.
On multiple occasions I reminded my students that Christianity can be compared with Baskin-Robbins in terms of their many flavors of ice cream. The flavors are different, but they all are ice cream. To me it is quite similar to the various denominations and churches within Christianity. For my money they are all Christians in terms of the foundation, but there are a variety of differences in terms of the flavors.
Not all readers of this post will agree, but I think we need to be more gracious in how we view those of different flavors and tamp down our tendency to try to convince them we are right and they are wrong.
I know what I believe and why I believe what I do, but I think as a Christian I should be respectful and understanding with regard to fellow believers who do not believe or practice their Christian faith exactly as I do. None of us should think or claim that we know it all and have it all together when it comes to what we believe and how we live.
I’m especially sensitive to this matter when it comes to Protestants and Catholics. In my role as a pastor I have been grieved more than once when a catholic questioned whether a protestant was a Christian and when a protestant questioned whether a catholic was a Christian.
All of us as Christians are free to believe what we do, but we need to be cautious about coming across as though we have it all together in what we believe and do while others do not. We can be convinced of what we believe and how we live our belief without attacking or arguing with Christians who differ from us.
I like the comparison of Baskin-Robbins and their many flavors with Christianity in general and the variety of Christian churches and denominations. I like Butter Pecan ice cream, but also eat several other flavors. I also like the flavor of the kind of church I have been affiliated with since I was 10 years old, but I also enjoy worshipping and talking with lots of Christians from other churches.
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