Drawing a Line Where Lines Don’t Have to Be Drawn

By Wayne Jacobsen, a new chapter for the book he’s writing on The Phenomenon of the Dones

 

“When I told my friends I’d left the church, they didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation with people who are completely surprised that formerly close friends would so suddenly cut them off. Leaving a faith community after many years of service and with many friendships is rarely made in haste or with joy. It is usually born out of prolonged pain and frustration. Statistics show that most who have left did everything they could not to reach that conclusion. They tried to be a voice for change, but were pegged as complainers. When that failed they tried to hunker down, ignore the things what disturbed them and focus on the positives.

But their attempts didn’t work. The final straw is rarely the most significant one. It’s simply the one that said they couldn’t go on like this any longer. Whether it was the last manipulative sermon or announcement from the pulpit, political intrigue they could no longer ignore, or simple exhaustion from wrestling with concerns no one else seemed to share, they finally come to a resolute decision because their conscience could do no other. Of course they want their closest friends to understand even if they don’t agree or aren’t ready to make the same decision. They assume their friends will be interested in that journey, but once they begin to talk about it they are treated as a pariah. Because religious performance has schooled them in living for the approval of others their desire to be understood comes off a bit too passionate, and often too sharp.

Because Christianity, however, focuses on right versus wrong, many reach that decision by concluding something is wrong there and they have to leave. Thus they are doing the “right” thing and those that do not support them are doing the “wrong” one. They may load up on Internet articles damning religious institutions as the harlot of Babylon, or blame a key leader or contributor as the leaven infecting the whole who ruined it for them. They make their quest a moral one and see anyone opposing them as no longer following the truth.

The stage is set for intense conflict and all the more because of their treasured friendships and their productive history with the congregation. The dialog of departure is too threatening to the future of the congregation to let it happen unchecked. Their story quickly finds its way into the ears of the leaders who realize the inherent danger of discontent spreading throughout the congregation. It’s amazing how quickly they can circle the wagons by marginalizing any malcontents with gossip and innuendo. There’s nothing more threatening to the viability of any group of people than people leaving it especially when they have a compelling explanation and long-term friendships. They have to characterize your decision as theologically wrong, and the gossip that ensues intends to destroy your reputation and make people afraid to engage you, even if only to not run afoul of the leadership.

So on the one hand you have people making tortured decisions wanting others to understand that decision and perhaps to even join them, and on the other a group of people who feel judged and wounded by that decision and don’t feel so friendly. My experience says that both sides wait for the other to make the first move, and both will wait for years. “I left six months ago and not one person has called me.” Or, “They just vanished one day as if your friendship had no meaning to them.”

No, that doesn’t happen everywhere. There are congregations and pastors secure enough to let people have their journey, and if they no longer fit in, still treat them with kindness and generosity. However, I don’t get email from people leaving those fellowships. I get it from those who are either harassed as someone who has rejected God or ostracized as if they were some kind of virus.  The latter is part of their attempt to get you to admit you’re wrong and come back. In their minds they do it for your own good. This is how they “love” you, by withholding their friendship until you conform again.

This is a treacherous time for all concerned. Like me you may need to take some distance from religious obligation to find freedom from it. Because I performed well, I could easily get sucked into that way of thinking if I hung around others who were pursuing it. To get away from it and have the time to cultivate new relationships not so mired in it was incredibly helpful for me. But I never lost my heart for those I’d left behind. They were only doing what I had done for years and rather than condemn them for it, I wanted to stay in touch with them in case a similar hunger got the better of them as well. And I discovered that as I learned to live inside the Father’s affection, it became easier to be around performance-based people and not be drawn into its orbit.

People often ask me if there’s a way to leave a congregation without hurting others. Of course there’s nothing we can do that will guarantee people how people will respond, but as I’ve watched people over 25 years go through this process, I’ve discovered there are ways we can make it easier on yourself and others you care about.

Leave quietly. Unless Jesus clearly asks you to make some kind of last stand, and let people know that you’re leaving and why, find a quieter exit. And if you do feel called to lay down the gauntlet, pray again to make sure you’re not just misreading your own desire for personal vindication as the leading of the Spirit. The more hurt or betrayal you feel from others, the more your flesh will want to respond this way. Doing so, however, will burn bridges Jesus may still want you to cross.

Remember how long it took for you to see through the problems and come to the conclusions you have.  Give time for the Spirit to do that same for them. You cannot make a more clear statement than simply withdrawing your participation you need not beat them over the head with your reasons. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. His advice is to leave quietly without trying to take anyone with you. Let God deal with their hearts. If people ask you what’s going on, don’t make “last-stand statements” about leaving the horrible “institutional church” to follow Jesus more freely. People will not be able to understand that language until the Spirit stirs similar hunger in their own hearts.

Talk about it in ways that impart grace to the hearer. When you find people who are also done with the traditional congregation, you can talk freely, encourage each other’s journeys, and work out your frustrations at how the system may have hurt you. With those who are still in it, however, it is far better to speak more gently, leaving a door open if they want to explore it more, not forcing your conclusions on them before they are ready to hear.

Don’t try so hard to be understood and don’t cast aspersions on other people or leadership. Of course I’m not encouraging you to be dishonest. If there is real corruption in the leadership or dynamics in the congregation others need to be warned about, do it cautiously. However, you don’t have to tell people everything and overwhelm them with your hurts. Just let them know you’re reconsidering some things in a prayerful season. If they’re interested they will ask for more, but discern those who are genuinely hungry and caring from those who just want to hear some salacious gossip to feed the rumor mill.

It is not your job to convince others that what you’re doing is the right response against injustice or evil. Laying out all your frustrations may well damage the relationship and force them to make a judgment about you when they don’t even understand what you’re doing. In many cases you probably don’t understand all that’s going on yet either even in your own heart.

Be careful what you share on social media. Not everyone in your pool of relationships will appreciate being confronted with your journey every day. Many people early in this journey take out their frustrations on others by wrapping their story in newfound controversial theological views they know will be a poke in the eye to people in their family and their former congregation. They seem to need the validation of being provocative and enduring other people’s reactions. In time they will come to see that though it makes them feel as if they’re doing something important, they are actually alienating people that Jesus also loves. Many of these will complain about the loss of friends they’ve suffered and play the martyr role in their search for truth, but they have only brought it on themselves.

There’s nothing valuable about working out your issues in public environment, and it only invites greater hurt. This is best done in personal conversations with people who’ve been down that road already and can listen, understand, and help you think through where some of your thoughts might lead.  You will discover that your views will shift dramatically over time and that the closer you come to his truth you will discover a huge helping of gentleness and humility that can encourage others without attacking them. Being antagonistic doesn’t open people to your point of view or to the God you’re learning to love, but caring about them as people on a journey will.

Avoid drawing the hard line. If people ask where you’ve been, instead of telling them you’ve left the Institutional Church never to return again, think again. That may be how you feel today, but grace is best lived with daily bites. You may feel the need to leave now, but you don’t know where this journey will take you or how God might lead you down the road. Who knows that God might call you back into a more congregational environment for a number of reasons? You don’t even know if the decision you’re making is temporary or permanent?

The encouragements in Scripture about following Jesus focus on our daily response to him, as best we discern his leading. Making stands based on some newfound conclusions or what you think is “right” versus what is “wrong”, don’t usually stand the test of time anyway. By stating them too early you paint yourself into a corner that you may not end up wanting to defend. Transformation of our thinking and our living takes place over time and we can’t possibly guess today what we might know better years from know.

Those who have left their congregations causing the least amount of damage and maintaining many of their friendships didn’t draw such hard lines. Instead they talked about needing a sabbatical or a taking a break from the activities that have exhausted them so they can once again focus on their relationship with Jesus. They may tell people they’re considering what the church is and how best for you to engage her in this season of their life. The more you personalize God’s leading the less they will need to feel rejected. I’ve often told people who ask me where I go to church, that I no longer attend a specific congregation, but I am exploring more relational ways of doing church. That has opened a door for many a thoughtful and sensitive conversation. If you need to resign from leadership positions or other responsibilities keep do it direct and kind. Keep in mind you don’t owe anyone an explanation no matter how badly they want one. Just tell them that you’re convinced this is what God has for us at this time.  It’s hard to argue with that.

Make your decision seem less final and less judgmental by seeing it as a season in your life in which God might be shifting your priorities or perceptions. The less threatening you make it, the more people will be able to care about you instead of choosing sides. That is the best way for you to see it as well. How many times have we made ironclad decisions for life that turned out to be wrong? We are all growing, all learning to follow him, and its best for us to see that as leading in the moment, rather than new rules to live by for the rest of our lives.

If they are interested they will ask for more and even then be sensitive to how much you share. Where they are genuinely concerned, open up more freely. Where they become defensive, back off a bit. This is about caring for them, not feeding your need to be right.

Realize new relationships will not come easily. Many people think they will leave their congregation and suddenly discover a lot of people ready to fellowship in more relational ways. Unfortunately that’s not usually the case. Many congregations are so ingrown that people have few other quality friendships beyond its borders.

Once you’ve left, what are you going to do to find new relationships? If you just think your congregation is fatally flawed, you may want to try some others to see if they are less so. Many take this option and find their way into larger congregations where they can just put in their time and be less conspicuous. Those who have the most success here usually go to smaller congregations closer to home and find people to love rather than a program to entertain them.

But for those who are really giving up on religious obligation and want to find more relational connections, don’t think finding a new group or even new friendships will be easy. You’ll want to find people of “like mind”, and if you do, great, but the best friendships don’t come out of finding people who are already like you, but growing in friendships through your differences. Look to love whomever is before you rather than trying to find a group of people on the same journey and it will be less frustrating.

Many find this a lonely season, especially if they made their decision alone but that isn’t bad either. Loneliness is often not about the lack of other people, but our lack of connection with Jesus. This is a great time to get to know him and learn to rest in his love, so new friendships can grow more without loneliness twisting them to your preferred ends..

Be a force for greater unity. Jesus’ most passionate prayer for his followers is that we’d all be one. If you’re finding your way out of the traditional congregation, don’t be shy about loving people who still go. If they are open to friendship without either of you trying to “fix” the other, pursue it. Keep the conversation on “Jesus” instead of “church” and you’ll find more fruitful conversations.

As you find more freedom in his love, you’ll find their guilt and condemnation will have no place to land. You can even expose it gently and honestly, even humorously, and those who really care about you will learn to lay it down at least in your presence. And they will when they see it no longer impacts you. They may want that freedom for themselves, but let them ask. That doesn’t mean you have to hang out with toxic people who try to put their bondage on you, but you will be able to love more freely those lost in the darkness.

Just don’t try to get people to see what you see. Trust the Spirit to do that as you simply enjoy them where they are on their own journey. In doing so you’ll fulfill the heart of the Father for increased love and affection. Some even find themselves once again in traditional congregations but as very different people who are no longer

Don’t forget to love. The real freedom from religious obligation comes as we learn to live in his love rather than create a new set of obligations to get others to follow. That even includes people we disagree with and those who mistreat us. That takes time, however; so don’t force yourself to live beyond your own freedom. As I said above, you may initially need to take some distance from those who hold you in judgment or try to manipulate you, even family members. But that will change over time.

As you discover how much he loves you that relationship will transform everything about the way you see him, see yourself, and see others. You increasingly find yourself disconnected from obligation and the ability to be manipulated by guilt or fear. You’ll be able to be around others, even those who disagree with your journey and not be influenced by their angst.

It’s a tough lesson to be sure, but one that will reap great rewards. If we try to force others to our own conclusions we’re playing the same game of conformity and manipulation that they are. Love doesn’t press; it entreats. It cares for someone looking for the conversation that may be bring light when people are ready.

And that goes for all of us. So whether your place in the journey has you inside an established congregation, or learning to live in the joy of his church outside of them, we’d all do well to treat each other with love and grace. Our unity will never come agreeing on all the finer points of doctrine or observing the same practices, but by caring about each other in spite of our differences and looking for ways to encourage others to draw more closely to Jesus.

Live true to his work in you and generous with others and you’ll fulfill all he has in mind for you and you’ll also be a blessing to his wider church in the world.

_________

This is part 17 in a series on The Phenomenon of the Dones by Wayne Jacobsen who is the author of Finding Church and host of a podcast at TheGodJourney.com.  You can read the first half here and subsequent parts below. It will eventually be made into a book for people to read more easily.

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11 Comments
  1. Victoria April 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    As always good stuff!:)
    When we first left we were harassed for several months demanding more of a reason why we left other than “this is where we feel God leading at this point”. We thanked them and had nothing against them and hoped to continue friendship…yet they saw us leaving as severing the relationship even when I sought to continue our friendship. Then we received harassment described in this article from other pastors and who were good friends of ours so far as to say we are cut off from the Bridegroom and Bride…and they cut off friendship with us until we repent of our sin for not going to Sunday morning service. These were all pastors and friends of ours that we were close to and not some strange weird religious churches but common likeable churches. We took the best advice from Wayne at that time…”to Love the next person in front of you and see where it leads”! Hallelujah it led us to low income families in town and made wonderful friendships with them….no religion no performance but friendship, Truth, Love. And I was concerned to see the other leaders who judge us but we never saw them as they were not involved with the people Jesus led us to. Now God moved us to a different community that is known to be a Bible Belt of our area so we were a little concerned how we would fit in but guess what God has blessed us with the jackpot of fellowship! The friendships I have made here are on fire for Jesus and they all go to a “denomination” but they haven’t focused on that nor on me not being “in” that setting. God even blessed me with an “instant” friend to pray and walk with everyday together and we get to sharpen each other and keep each other’s fire burning hotter:). It may take time in this journey but He will bless you abundantly as you follow Him and trust Him into the unknown:)!!!!

  2. Carol Sitzlar April 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I recently left a large congregation because I just wasn’t comfortable. I only started going there because I wanted to meet other Christians. I did manage to do that through a Bible Study, but it became clear after a few months that my views and theirs were far apart. Rather than cause hurt, I sent them an email saying I was “withdrawing” from the group and that church because I felt strongly that the Lord was leading me in a different direction. I did manage to form one friendship, and even though she feels the need to belong to a church (not the same one we met in), I don’t know if it will “stick” or not.

    I hate feeling like a piece of toast in a toaster, popping up and down during a church service. I have been reading “Pagan Christianity” and “Reimagining Church” by Frank Viola and it is my hope that the Lord will bring people t me (or me to them) who are also seeing that the “organized church” is NOT what Jesus intended. Damn Constantine! LOL!

    However, as I have always been a bit of a loner, if I don’t find any like-minded people, that’s okay, too. I have my own worship and study time everyday in my Prayer Closet (which is actually a room) and I have relationships with some people online – most of whom I have met at one time or another. They aren’t at the place where I am, either, but they have known me for years and are accepting of me and my rather unconventional beliefs.

    Wayne, I have read most everything you’ve written and it has totally resonated with me. It puts the spotlight on why I was NEVER comfortable in any church – even one I belonged to for many years. I always felt like I was putting on a show – but not for GOD.

    While I’m at it — I LOVE the book “The Shack” and have read everything else Mr. Young has written. I am hopeful there will be a DVD of the movie because I hate going to theatres (don’t like crowds!). I can see why it upsets the apple cart for people who have taken their faith at face value and never delved deeper. I can’t do that. I have a mind that needs to learn and to examine and find truth wherever possible.

    I so appreciate you and the other authors who have helped God to remove the scales from my eyes. I feel more freedom and joy in worship than ever before. And my 4 rescue dogs love sharing my study and worship time with me, too — they’re not particular about my singing or piano playing! LOL!

    THANK you — and I look forward so much to reading your new book! Please make sure it gets on Amazon so I can buy it for my Kindle Fire!

    Blessings upon thee! 🙂

    Carol Sitzlar
    Lenoir City, TN

    • Wayne Jacobsen April 18, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      I was just in Maryville a few months ago. I know some people over there if you want an introduction, let me know…

  3. Marcia April 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Wow…how I wish this incredibly reflective piece had been available when we left our congregation as I can see so many things that I didn’t handle very well because of my own hurt and too many years of legalism that didn’t open my eyes to my Father’s love for me. The rejection I felt was so real and intense, and because it involves a small church and community where you either attend church or are considered a heathen, it’s tough to leave. And yes, I learned that I’m a recovering Pharisee who once viewed those who skipped Sunday church in the same manner but our Father has certainly convicted and tendered my heart on that issue! We actually tried to leave quietly, but that’s harder to do in a small church. I know there are many who are still uncomfortable with our “defection” but they now either don’t ask where we go to church or simply avoid us. I’m still on my journey without a congregation but have found weekly prayer community with what a new friend termed her “Jesus friends” who have welcomed me with open arms, and am currently involved with a women’s discipleship group that isn’t connected to a congregation or denomination. I find myself missing the Sunday congregations but know how easily I would be sucked back into performance Christianity because of my personality. So I will continue at the present time with meeting with dear Christian friends for our Sunday home church study and listen to the Holy Spirit as far as if, when, and where I am to go.

  4. Barry Schoen April 17, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    So very well said.

    Some of the friendships I’ve lost after leaving a congregation have not been from the pain of separation but from the friendship being task-centered and not as genuine as I had believed. It’s no different than a friendship at work and when you change jobs, that friendship evaporates.

    True friendships, where ever they occur are rare and priceless.

    • Victoria April 18, 2017 at 5:36 am

      Love this Barry! Wonderful perspective and how true! I learned my friendships that I lost were work based or performance based and can now know true friendship.

    • Wayne Jacobsen April 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      True enough, Barry. If they are only task-based they do dry up and no one feels any loss. I would hope that most of our relationships wouldn’t simply be tasked-based, but I know for many people they are, and though I hoped for more I was sad that they didn’t.

  5. Pandora Thomas April 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    To me it depends on why one leaves congregations. For me it was false church doctrines. Therefore I can no longer be a Protestant of The Re-Form-Mation of Catholic church Doctrine.

  6. Gilbert Fleming April 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Carol, I appreciate your reference to Pagan Christianity. There is much wisdom is this book. Recently Wayne wrote:

    Less than 250 years after Christ died and Paul wrote his letters, the freedom of the new creation had been fully
    crushed by the institution that calls itself “church.”

    I want to share something I wrote in honor of a dear friend of mine. Who happens to be a Mormon. I was happy to read in The Shack, that Mormons were honestly seeking Christ. Just like Catholics, etc.

    I wrote it to explain that the Church was “hijacked” by the Emperor Constantine early in the fourth century.

    I was a sophomore in high school, when a Youth for Christ full-time staff person firmly objected to the Mormon Church and demanded that I stop visiting with the Mormon missionaries. He told me “Mormons are not Christians, they do not believe in the correct definition of the Holy Trinity. They are not “saved”.

    It disturbed me to think that Mormons believed in a false definition of the Holy Trinity. But here are other disturbing facts:

    The Roman Catholic Church sharply disagrees with the Mormons’ definition of the Holy Trinity.

    But the Roman Catholic Church also sharply disagrees with the Eastern Orthodox Church’s definition of the Holy Trinity.

    But, the Eastern Orthodox Church sharply disagrees with the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of the Holy Trinity.

    For about 900 years, the official position of the Roman Catholic Church was that the Eastern Orthodox Christians were heretics. The Roman Catholic Church excommunicated the Eastern Orthodox Church. Their official position was the Eastern Orthodox Christians would all go to Hell.

    Well guess what? The Eastern Orthodox Church took the same position and taught that the Catholic Christians were heretics. They excommunicated the Catholics and taught that the Catholics would burn in Hell when they died.

    How do we straighten this mess up? Who is right and who is wrong?

    The Youth for Christ staff person who criticized the Mormons’ version of the Holy Trinity was, in my opinion, misinformed.

    In the back of his mind, he probably thinks that somewhere in the Holy Land there is a document, written by Jesus Christ himself, or maybe written by Saint Peter, which contains the correct definition of the Holy Trinity.

    Recently I visited Washington, D.C. I saw the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. You can’t read them very well, but I did make out the signatures of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. This was thrilling. But it was an ordeal to get into the room. I had to take off my shoes and belt and cell phone and go through a metal detector. Then, only then, I could go to a heavily guarded room where these documents were kept under a special type of glass that would preserve them. Surely there was a similar exhibit somewhere in the Holy Land? Surely the Youth for Christ paid staff person thought that he could go through a metal detector, with strict security measures, and find the original document which contains the original definition of the Holy Trinity?

    No that’s not the case. What prompted the Christian church to sit down and write out a definition of the Holy Trinity?

    It was a civil war. About 300 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire was in a civil war with three contenders battling for the crown. Constantine was a great general from the western, Latin-speaking section of the Roman Empire. The other contenders were from the eastern, Greek-speaking section. Christianity was born in the very eastern edge of the empire, in Palestine. Then it spread west. Christianity had been growing in the Greek-speaking east decades longer than in the Latin-speaking west. It stands to reason there would be many more Christians in the Greek-speaking eastern section of the empire.

    The Greek-speaking contenders for the emperor’s crown had been vehemently opposing and persecuting Christianity.

    Constantine’s move was a stroke of brilliance. It must have inspired Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

    Remember the American Civil War? President Lincoln signed the Emancipation freeing all the slaves in the Confederacy. How many slaves did Lincoln really free? None! But his action had severe consequences for his southern enemies. The slaves then worked to sabotage the war efforts of the Confederacy.

    Many, many centuries before President Lincoln, General Constantine signaled that he would be tolerant of Christianity. By doing this, he sent a message to the Christians in the Greek-speaking eastern section of the Roman Empire that they should oppose and sabotage Constantine’s rivals. The impact was profound. Christians in the Greek-speaking eastern half of the Roman Empire resisted Constantine’s rivals.

    Constantine eventually won the Roman civil war and was crowned emperor. He legalized Christianity. He attempted to give it a favored status in the modernized Roman Empire he was building.

    But unforeseen problems arose! Once the Christian movement was made legal, the Christians started battling. Different sects of Christianity were vying for their own viewpoint.

    Constantine, now emperor, decided to host an imperial convention to iron out the disagreements amount the various factions in the Christian church.

    This conference is now known as the Council of Nicaea, held in the year 325 AD. Hundreds of Christian leaders from the entire empire were summoned to resolve their differences, and specifically to write an official definition of the Holy Trinity. The faction that we now call orthodox or we call catholic is the faction that won the debate in Nicaea.

    The faction that lost was led by a Christian leader from Egypt named Arias. Arius argued that the Council of Nicaea was invalid. He argued that, since the days of the Apostles, church leaders would gather and pray together and discuss together and decide issues of faith and doctrine and behavior among Christians. This is documented in the New Testament Book of Acts. But Arias argued that these councils were guided by baptized mature Christian leaders who presumably had the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Holy Spirit could guide them to the right answer. Arias argued that Emperor Constantine was not a baptized Christian, not a mature Christian, not a Christian at all, but a pagan. Therefore, the Holy Spirit could not possibly be guiding his conscience. In Arius’ view, the holdings of the Nicaean Council were invalid.

    So this is how the written definition of the Holy Trinity was put down on paper. There is peculiar story that during the Nicaean Council, a Christian bishop died. It’s said that a delegation of attendees made a solemn progression to his grave, and placed the Nicaean Creed on his tombstone. The next morning, this same solemn progression returned to the grave of the dearly departed bishop. They found the bishop’s signature affixed to the document. He rose from the dead, signed the document and went back to the grave? Really?

    But did this settle the issue? No. There were decades and centuries of dispute between various sections of the Christian world even after the Council of Nicaea. These battles came to a head in July, 1054 AD. A delegation of high ranking church officials from the Pope visited the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople. They laid a Papal Bull on the high alter. This Papal Bull explained that the Eastern Orthodox definition of the trinity was incorrect. Actually, it was heresy. The Eastern Orthodox Church was excommunicated. They would all go to hell when they die.

    A few months later, the Patriarch of Constantinople returned the favor to Rome. The Eastern Orthodox Church condemned the Roman definition of the Trinity and declared that the Roman Catholics were heretics, and they were going to go to hell when they died.

    How long did the Romans and the Greeks condemn each other for their written definitions of the Trinity? Only about 900 years.

    In 1965, Pope Paul IV. and the Patriarch of Constantinople nullified the excommunications of 1054. The churches did not reunify. Neither of these churches “cried uncle” and changed their theology. It appears they just decided there was enough “wiggle room” that neither of these written definitions of the Trinity would condemn a Christian to hell.

    So since the Catholics have decided that there is enough “wiggle room” in their definition of the Holy Trinity that Eastern Orthodox won’t go to hell when they die. And Eastern Orthodox has determined that there is enough “wiggle room” in their definition that Catholics won’t go to hell when then die….

    Isn’t there also enough “wiggle room” in the Mormon’s definition that they won’t go to hell when they die?

  7. Gerald Garber April 19, 2017 at 6:42 am

    This segment of your series is very timely. What I find interesting is that I experienced and came to the same conclusion of all your major points in my own journey. Unfortunately, I must confess that I made almost all the “mistakes” you cautioned against as I began my journey, but the Spirit has ultimately led me to the same points you prescribe. I find now the freedom to take the daily portion of my new journey of relationship without feeling the need to justify my position or dispute those who disagree with me. I no longer draw lines in the sand, or make public resolutions that make it more awkward to explain if, over time, I may actually be led (at least partially) back into relationships I had previously publicly denounced. While it is still disappointing to sense judgement and disapproval from those I was at one time “intimate” with, I find myself no longer threatened by that sense. Instead, I am free to love those God has drawn me into relationship with and also those who have rejected my current status. Herein, for me, lies the freedom I have been looking for most of my life.

  8. […] Part 17: Drawing a Line where Lines Don’t Have to be Drawn […]

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