Labels

Labels - Ben Baughman

There were real Christians. That was us.

Then there were Catholics and mainline churches and those who were not Pentecostal. They were all in the “maybe saved” category.

Then came other religions. Judaism, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Animism. They couldn’t be saved unless they left and became Christian, preferably Pentecostal.

Then there were agnostics and atheists. You argue with them until they are persuaded that you are right and they are wrong. Then they can become Christian, preferably Pentecostal.

Then there were Wiccans and Satanists.

The only way to get to the last two was to cast out the evil spirits and do a sign of the cross. Then hope they believed before the demons came back.

It’s expanded a bit now. There’s a group called “nones” and one called “dones”.

I think I’m in the last category, but the label’s unimportant.

I love Jesus.

I’ve quit trying to make Christians out of people.

I just want them to be loved.

If God has an agenda, that seems to be it.

If Jesus represents God in flesh, I’m in awe of God.

I think my cultural religious upbringing of “evangelism” as trying to get others to change to my religion gets in the way of what I observe Jesus doing.

I don’t think God cares about my labels.

———————————————————

If you liked this post, be sure to sign up for Ben’s Newsletter to get the latest posts/news delivered to your inbox.

12 Comments

  1. Are you the Ben Baughman from The Sanctuary in Fort Morgan?
    If so, this is Dan Barker -formerly of The Fort Morgan Times. If “Untracked” is your book, I want to read it. Looking at the blog responses and the description, I think I would agree with you.
    Please contact me at dan_barker@comcast.net.

  2. I chanced upon this at the tail end of a biographical memoir, “God’s Rays,” by theoretical Physicist Bryce deWitt:

    “The period before 300 AD is a very difficult one to write about; evidence is so fragmentary. The historian has to present every scrap of speculation about this period that has been put forward by dozen of other historians, and then answer those with whom she disagrees. Nevertheless, after all preliminaries have been cleared away, one message comes through loud and clear. Many Jesus cults arose around the Mediterranean in those years. Some had their own Gospels, with stories and sayings of Jesus. Some has their own – intellectual types who couldn’t resist trying to propose frameworks for belief. But the cults themselves typically arose among the lowest social strata (slaves, beggars, convicts)who were coming into contact, for the first time, with a “religion” very different from the those they already knew about. This new religion touched such a deep chord in them that many were willing to oppose authorities on its behalf even if that opposition meant death. And all these developments took place before Constantine co-opted the political power in the new religion by setting up the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

    What was the new element in this new religion that had such an overwhelming impact? In a word, love. That is the key word, for believers and nonbelievers alike, that raises our existence above the level of farce. And it needs no religious framework whatever to exert its power.”

    I would suggest that “Love” is the antidote to our current infatuation with Labels.

    As you may remember I once defined Love as “Reflecting back to someone their best possible self,” and seems to me that we currently have this backwards … our – I use the word not to mean “everyone,” but rather the vast majority – tendency is to reflect back to others their worst possible self.

    More to mine out of this quote, but that’s all for now.

    • Errata: In the quote from Bryce deWitt, above, “Some has their own – intellectual types” should read “Some had their own Bishops – intellectual types.”

      • Wow! I just downloaded and read “God’s Rays”. I will also be reading Elaine Pagels works that he takes this from. What a timely and powerful piece. I agree fully!
        Thanks for sharing!

  3. As one who has been described as “not a real Christian,” it obvious to me that one many people consider to be a Christian is some one who agrees with whatever their version of Christianity is. Sometimes, I think, one of the worst labels we can apply, or not, is the label of “Christian.”

    • Well put, Bill. You were one of the people, in my progression of thought-change over the years of observation, that led me to where I’m at now. (some would call it regression :))

  4. Thanks Ben! We’ve talked about this before, but the early church didn’t grow by marketing a doctrine. It grew by demonstrating love for non-Christian Romans and Egyptians and Greeks and other Gentiles.

    • Thanks Paul, somehow I missed your comment the first time around and caught it today. My response is a resounding yes!

  5. “I don’t think God cares about my labels.” I agree. Jesus clearly didn’t care about the labels religious people of his day put on people. He hung out with and talked with any and everyone. He loved all and we should too. He also was clear about his “agenda” for those who love and follow him… “make disciples… baptizing them, teaching them”. Of course, we’ve polluted this with labels (protestant, catholic, pentecostal, etc.) but let’s not throw the proverbial “baby out with the bathwater”. “Making Christians out of people” and “evangelism” is certainly not about making people like me, but it is inviting them to truly know and follow Jesus. That invitation is a key element in loving people.

    • Thanks Paul. I love it when something I write elicits a response.
      If Jesus is the “baby” you think I am throwing out, you miss my point. He is precisely who I would love the world that is not Christian culturally to have access to again…, without having to take on the bathwater of Christianity.
      Christianity has long made the claim of ownership by “patent” and “copyright” through our scriptures of the one who above all others belongs in public domain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *