Can you be a liberal Christian?

This post is due to a thread I started having with the Retropolitan. He had a good question so I thought I would expand on it. I mentioned that as a Catholic, I don't have this belief that my faith/Religion is the only true religion and that by extension, all others are false. The question was posed, "Vince, can't be! If I believe in one religion, doesn't that mean I should believe that all other religions are incorrect?"

It was an interesting question that made me try to put my belief into words. As Haloscan has a 1000 character limit, I thought I would dedicate some space to it.

A little background first. In case you couldn't figure it out, I am a MAJOR liberal. Not as liberal as I was in high school or college (growing up and having kids tends to make you rethink some things). But for the most part I think we need to tinker with the system to make it better where conservatives tend to want to leave things alone. I also believe the government has a role and responsibility in looking after its citzens. By extension, I believe in freedom of expression and religion. Anything that smacks of censorship makes my blood boil. Ok, now to the point.

I really beleive that every person has the right to beleive what they want. I grew up a traditional Italian Catholic. Meaning I went to church 3 times a year: Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. By the time I got to High School, I didn't even go on Christmas. Consequently, I never learned all the "rules" that go with the Catholic faith. By some quirk, even thought I went to public school up to 8th grade, I went to a Catholic high school. There, I learned some things about the Catholic faith but it didn't really say anything to me. I didn't really start coming back to the faith until college. I became a fan of the Chritian band Stryper. Now, it's hard to listen to a lot of music extolling the praises of Jesus without it starting to affect you. On top of this, my wife and I became engaged around that time. She was a faithful churchgoer and really wanted me to go with her since she wanted any children we had to grow up in the faith. It wouldn't do to have one parent that didn't go. She didn't make a huge deal about it but kept gently nudging. Eventually I started going to Church with her and became active in the faith again.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess I'm not your "standard" Catholic. My personal belief is that all roads to Jesus are vaild. Meaning, as Christians, we are all supposedly worshipping the same Lord. Sure, some of the rules are different, but if you look at them closely, the core beliefs are the same. All churches have a spiritual leader on Earth. Catholics happen to call him the Pope. Some people feel that praying to saints or Mary is beneficial. It doesn't do anything for me personally, but so what?

My basic position is that who the Hell am I to say that the way I worship is the "correct" way? Hell, I have a hard enough time just living as Jesus would want me to live. I don't have the time to start telling other people what they believe is wrong. There's a couple of scripture passages that pretty much sum it up for me: Do not judge or you will be judged. Also, how can you take the splinter out of your brother's eye when you have a beam in your own? I'm still battling getting that beam out of my eye. I'm not ready yet to take the moral high ground and set myself as the example for others to follow.

Ok, so I can justify just about any Christian faith as equally valid so Catholocism is not the "one true CHRISTIAN" faith. What about all those others? Jews, Muslims, Buddists, whatever. You know what, it doesn't really bother me. The Jewish and Muslim faith still believe in God. It still boils down to we worship the same Lord. Jesus once said "those that are not against me are for me". True, I beleive that Jesus died for our sins and that by believing in Him and following Him then we will recieve everlasting life. But who am I to tell God what to do? How do I know that Jews and Muslims are not also going to Heaven. At the end of the Gospel of John, Peter questions why one of the deciples of Jesus was following him. Jesus basically said, "What do you care?" God will do as He wills and who are we to question it.

The same goes really for other faiths. Who are we to say that we have "the answer" and that only this one path leads to Salvation? I think what Christians really need to do is set an example and just be "a light to the world". If other's see value in what we do as followers of Christ, they will also want to follow. I think my job is just to be an example. I'm not always a good one, but I do what I can. I've pretty much dedicated my musical talent to serving Christ. I play in our church music group, and I've decided to only write Christian music. I think that God's been leading me there. If by listening to my music or by watching me it brings people closer to God, that's great. If not, that's fine too. I think if we spent more time trying to be good people and helping others and less arguing about who is right and who is wrong, our world would be a better place. Imagine for a minute if everyone just followed the basic tenet of loving your neighbor. Forget everything else the Bible might teach. What a world we could create. And we wouldn't have to be Christian to do it. But then again, if we all loved our neighbor, would we be "Christian" anyway? At least in spirit?


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