I have a recollection of a meeting with friends who, while Catholic, were somewhat of the fundamentalist stripe. I was sharing a song from a new liturgical recording. They didn’t buy into my excitement, suggesting instead that my aim was somehow amiss. The better alternative was directly going to Jesus. For them, this meant mostly intellectual discussion. Study the Bible and struggle with it–so far, so good. But that’s about it. Other paths to God, with God, were suspect. Heady talk worked for them, so why bother risking getting lost with something else? As a twenty-something, I did recognize a my-way-or-the-highway approach.
Many Christians of the fundamentalist stripe are quite fine believers and disciples. But for some, their expectations of God are extremely narrow. They feel scolded when it is suggested there might be an alternate way. Like something personally surprising. And this is unusual, because many reformed sinners have a sense of grace. They might recognize they didn’t deserve reconciliation and harmony with Christ. But they got it.
The strange thing is that for many believers, they really seem to act as though their grace was deserved. Again: grace their way. And everybody else likely must hold to that way–the one sure way. The way they shared with God. Once. Or maybe a few times.
The alternative path is that there are many ways to God. The Bible shows it. Only problem: you have to read the whole thing with a dollop of openness. God chose people less and more righteous, within Judaism or outside of it, from the beginning or later in life, it didn’t seem to matter for either Old or New Testament. The only constants seem to be that he calls everybody and can call in nearly any way.
There is a danger with Christians pushing the attack too far with their brothers and sisters. I think some of you readers know what I mean. No one can expect to know the story of all the other hundreds of millions of believers. The pitfall is that the ally of the enemy may well have gotten into a misbegotten association.
Commentariat, have at it. Is there a Screwtape in the midst, and we don’t know about it?