There is a brutal tension between something real and something very wrong in the Christian faith.
Something isn't working anymore in the way we're doing Christianity.
Some people see the Christian faith as an old woman, past her prime, closer to a nursing home than to nursing new life.
From the outside, the church is accused of losing touch with normal people; it's forgotten how to speak their language and doesn't understand their questions, doubts and concerns.
From the inside, some are just as disillusioned: they themselves have lost sight of what the church is supposed to be about. They have remained faithful to the faith they inherited yet carry questions to which they have never received a satisfactory answer. An answer like, 'God said it, I believe it and that settles it' doesn't settle it with many people anymore.
This reservoir of unanswered questions and unsatisfactory answers has taken us on a kind of spiritual quest, a quest for honesty, for authenticity and for a faith that makes more sense. A faith that runs deeper than mere beliefs, more a new way of believing.
Our quest for a new kind of Christianity began following a period of deep personal crisis and the humility to recognise that what we had held onto for many years was tantamount to a bucket full of holes. We knew God had way more light and truth to reveal, so we embarked on our quest.
This quest is shared by millions of lifelong Christians around the world.
The first era of Christianity was very different to what we know now. The version of Christianity that most Christians hold today is a fusion of Greek philosophy and Roman ideals. Emperor Constantine gathered together bishops to develop creeds so that he could anchor his crumbling empire and claim validation by the God of the Christians. This was not a healthy fusion from the beginning, and in its first 250 years, these bishops participated in the executions of about 25,000 people as heretics.
Now, the word 'heresy' comes from the Greek word for choice. Early on, before the bishops had crafted a central confession of the Christian faith, people understood the Christ in a wide variety of ways. Suddenly, those who were believed to have strayed away from this centrally held ethos were labelled heretics. Why? Because they saw things they were not supposed to see, or said things they were not supposed to say. They wondered about things they were not supposed to wonder about, and when 'Mother Church' told them to stop, they did not obey her.
The Christian faith had changed from a dynamic faith that moved mountains to a static belief that burned heretics. Faith that made a difference in the world was replaced by a list of rules that controlled people's every move, and sadly that kind of belief is what has remained to this day.
Over the centuries there are many who have joined the quest and asked those serious questions that have helped bring down this paradigm that has been in place for over a thousand years.
Men like Martin Luther dared to question rituals in the church with his ninety five statements that he posted on the now famous Wittenberg Door. This sparked off a debate that would move the movement from its medieval practices and push the church into a new era.
Brian Mclaren, in his book A New Kind of Christianity, puts it this way..
'What the church has done to Christianity sometimes makes believers not want to associate with anything named Christian. It's no wonder that Jesus and his way has become unappealing to the masses, not because of what he did, but because of how it's been marketed by the institution called the church.
New statements inspire debates which bring us to a new state. But new questions can inspire new conversations that can launch us on a new quest. It's time for a new quest, launched by new questions - a quest across denominations and around the world, a quest for new ways to believe and new ways to live and serve faithfully in the way of Jesus, a quest for a new kind of Christian faith'
It's is said that the difference between a Christian and a disciple of Jesus is as follows: Christians are people who have entered a certain sedentary membership or arrived at a status validated by some group or institution, while disciples are those who have started on a rigorous unending journey or quest in relation to Jesus Christ.'
We has joined this quest.