I’m not sure “trivialize” is a correct word to use, but I’ll try it here. On a Google search, trivialize is defined as “make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is; synonyms include underplay, downplay, diminish.”
In light of this blog’s theme—”spiritual Canyons exist, on many fronts. hopelessly Divided?”—I think Christians sometimes trivialize faith-related matters. I work with refugees and immigrants—a great privilege! But, I often sense feelings of disregard, even animosity, between their Christian traditions. Ethiopian evangelical Christians do not seem to consider Ethiopian orthodox believers as fellow Christians. An eastern European orthodox believer talked with much disrespect of eastern European Pentecostal believers. Hispanic evangelical Christians do not seem to consider Hispanic Catholic believers as their fellow Christians. This disdain for the other is often reciprocated. Rather than Christianity being a large family of God, it contains many splintered groups who trivialize the complexities of each other, and then question each other’s validity—quite a broken family.
I admit, they highlight big differences, and of my immigrant acquaintances, they know each other better than I know them. Concerns sometimes include the following: Orthodox and Catholic Christians have different Bibles than other Christians; their Bibles include the apocryphal books like Esdras and Maccabees. Concern is raised about prayers through, or even to, Mother Mary. They make so much of their traditions and rituals, as if they are as important as the Bible. They don’t experience the Holy Spirit in the same way we do, so their way is less legitimate. And within these big differences highlighted, valid concerns are there, but often strong, sincere allegiance is offered to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, it’s just done in the way a person was raised to do it. Sometimes that is with the heavy use of rituals and traditions, or lack thereof if a person is raised to know God without that.
I tend to advocate for unity in the Family, seeking to understand that naturally there will be differences within the siblings because we come to know God through different means. I affirm our differences, especially when I see sincerity and authenticity, which I often do. I KNOW, I know, it’s important to be careful to not water-down Truth for the sake of unity.
I mention here that concerns are raised, and disregard is extended at times toward the practices of Catholic Christians and Orthodox Christians. What would be your thought toward Jehovah’s Witnesses? Would they be considered part of this broken family of God mentioned at the bottom of the second paragraph? Why or why not?
(NEXT TIME—do we sometimes trivialize the sharing and receiving of faith?)