For a time I will be writing blog entries that will appear in both “mikenowandthen” and “biblenowandthen.” I have two reasons for this. First, I want to show that biblical Christians have have public views on ethics and politics which are not to be dismissed as being “merely religious.” It is becoming more common in our day for the views of Christians to be denigrated simply because they are held by Christians. That is an irrational view which I hope to counter.
At the moment, the subject of my interest in participating in public debate is my conviction that America has made a very serious mistake in electing our next president. I find him to be a man without morals or integrity and a man who fits perfectly the personality profile of a tyrant. Yet these next several postings will not be about politics directly but about my second reason for combining the two blogs for a time.
That second reason is my conviction that of all our basic social, cultural, political and economic institutions, it is only our churches, synagogues, and mosques that can show us solid hope for the future. I write as a Christian, one whose life has been for more than half a century to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to the Bible — Old testament and New — as the Word of God. When I speak of the three great religions bringing hope to America, I by no means am suggesting that I will set aside my commitment to Jesus Christ.
What I am suggesting is that, however much we may differ, Christianity and Judaism and Islam all intend to honor the Creator revealed in the book of Genesis. that gives us a common starting point. We all — individuals and groups — have both a center and a circumference, a circle which includes all the aspects which give us our sense of identity. The questions are, With that as a center, how wide is the circle we draw? Where are the limits beyond which we cannot go? What are the ideas and who are the people who are outside our circle and therefore truly alien to us.
Some people want to draw tight little circles, making almost everyone else the “they” against whom they define themselves. Others, such as myself, want to draw a large circle, to be as inclusive as possible. More important to me than the exact lines of my circumference is the assurance that my center is solid and secure.
So, with all that as introduction, I now begin to examine what appear to me to be the biblical emphases on being as inclusive as possible, on stretching our circle as widely as possible.
This posting is already so long that I will take only a moment now to point out that Jesus told his followers that he was a shepherd and that he has “other sheep that do not belong to this fold” (John 10:16). He doesn’t dwell on the point or explicate it, leaving his listeners to wonder who the outsiders might be. Jesus doesn’t define “this fold” or the “other.” Neither does the gospel writer. My sense, then, is that “we” — however we might define ourselves or our group — must be careful not to be too quick to think of the “other” as an outsider.
There is no way to measure the pain that has been caused over the centuries by people think think in terms of a rigid we/they bifurcation. I do not wish to add to that pain. . .