A voicehearer’s path ~

Just say NO!

To Fundamentalism of any stripe. I spent 10 years in the Fundamentalist movement. Pentecostal to be exact, there were many things I loved about the fellowship, and many things I absolutely hated about the positions my fellow “fundies” would take regarding others and and the command to love. I read articles by “fundies” every once in a while, just to remind myself of what I walked away from. One of their most common comments is that every other stance regarding Biblical or other references is that anything that isn’t of their thinking is “watered down”. I have to laugh at that, it’s a painful laugh, but it is definitely a laugh.

I often quote First John, chapter 4, verses 7 & 8 as my favorite verse in the New Testament. {Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He who does not love does not know God.} It is the gospel of compassion that most fundamentalists consider “watered down”. Yet, it is the command to love that is the very hardest command, in any faith, that most humans find to obey. Me included. Genuine love is not for the weak minded, it requires caring about your fellow humans on a level that sees no stranger in an unknown face.

I get frustrated with the constant quoting of Paul’s comments in Romans on sin, that were meant to simply point out our frailties, but are used to hammer others more often than to take a scorching moral inventory of one’s own faults. Yet, I must remind myself that it was Paul that wrote one of the loveliest passages anywhere in sacred writings, i.e. First Corinthians, Chapter 13.

1 Corinthians 13

Love

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That entire passage speaks to what love requires of each of us who would practice the path of compassion. If you think it’s a watered down, “namby pamby” way to live, try it for a couple of months, it will be anything but easy. When you have lived with that as your goal for many years, it is then you can talk to me about “watered down” scripture.

I do want to point out that Paul went too far in his inventory of sin, making it easy for those who follow most of that list to disparage folks who live alternative lifestyles. He touched on things the original teacher he professes left alone. If your finger is not pointing at yourself with most of that list, you have no right to quote it to others who do not live your way. Romans Chapter 8 begins with “There is no condemnation now, for those who live in Christ Jesus, (or for other faiths, the spirit of compassion) for the law of love has set me free from the law of sin and death.” I am well aware that it is much easier to expound on the “law of sin and death” when working with others than it is to live by the “Law of Love”. Until you can live by the “Law of Love”, to profess that you know God may, indeed, be an exaggeration.

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