Posted by: JennyRain | January 2, 2010

Melting Pot Spirituality

Holidays spark many discussions about Spirituality in my family.

My family covers the denominational spectrum so it makes discussions about religion and spirituality entertaining and enlightening.

These discussions about religion are not considered taboo in my family, rather, because of our broad base of spiritual experience, they are a time to share and learn.

I am definitely a denominational mutt.

Raised Catholic, confirmed Episcopal, exposed to missions and community service by a mega-non-denominational church, mix in a sprinkling of Charismatic-church flavor, then mashed into a Baptist who married an Episcopal.

Part of my family is practicing Presbyterian (reformed PCA), some are active Catholics and some are inactive – more Spiritually focused, and finally my step brother and sis-in-law hold down the Methodist denomination.


This denominational diversity is enough to make your head spin!

And I love it.

I love it because this diversity encourages me to continually explore my own belief systems and does not allow me to become so entrenched that I close off my heart to other explanations of how God might be working in the world.

I am sure you can imagine the Calvinist/Armenian debates at the dinner table!

My tradition exalts the Ministry of the Word as Essential to our Christian experience and relationship with God.


The Word of God (the Bible) is seen as an avenue to know God and understand his purposes and ways, it is the bedrock of our faith, and the glue that enables our faith communities to be bonded.

Other parts of my family exalt the ministry of Communion as a pinnacle of their faith experience.

Last night I was drawn into my mother-in-law’s explanation of the Sacrament of Communion in her faith tradition.

Though I had learned about and practiced Catholic sacraments as a young child, and I continue to practice the ordinances of communion and baptism in my tradition, I never really “got” the whole sacrament thing. Until our discussion where she said,

To me, to share in the body and blood of Christ is to experience the very Christ Himself inside of me. To have God living in me. It is something so holy, so sacred, so personal, and so incomparable to anything else. I look forward to this each week, and to have a mass without this would mean I would miss out on this opportunity to experience Christ.

It was one of the best explanations of the doctrine of transubstantiation I have ever heard!

I was immediately able to relate her experience of “union” with Christ through Communion to my own connection to Christ that I feel when I read the Bible. Communion was her experience of a deep love relationship with God, to me, reading the bible is like reading a love letter from God to me. It’s intimate, personal, and engaging.

But this explanation did something else. It gave me a window into another faith tradition’s practice of our Living God. It provided me another way to experience Jesus Christ working in me, living in me, and making Himself present in our communities of faith.

It was such a beautiful expression of her love relationship with Jesus Christ, and how she nurtures that love relationship in her own life. It was lovely. It was memorable. It was unique. It was powerful.

I do not think I will ever see Communion the same way again.

What if we allowed our faith traditions to intersect and used these crossroads of differing belief to stimulate our own unique relationship with God? What if, instead of criticizing other faith traditions, we closed our mouths and opened our hearts to God and allowed Him to show us how He might be working in other communities of faith?

Now, I’m not saying “accept any religion as true” or “embrace anything because all roads lead to the same place” – I do not believe that. I also believe that many faith traditions have stepped into disrepair and dysfunction due to bad theology, sloppy accountability, and because of this people are getting hurt. Toxic religion exists and it is something to stay away from – not embrace. God warns about it in Romans:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Rom 16:17-18)

Bad theology is bad theology and theology matters.

What I do believe, however, is that our spiritual journey is regularly intersecting with the spiritual journeys of others all around us and it is at this crossroads that we can enter into a new experience of our Living God in Christ.

What if instead of seeing denominational fences, we began to build ecumenical bridges to our experience of Christ? What if instead of separating and segregating ourselves by our differences, we united by our similarities?

I am glad I listened to my mother-in-law’s experience last night… it has informed and enriched my own faith journey.

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Responses

  1. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com/ if you will. Love is the law, love under will. 😉

  2. Beautiful post..


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