Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Drawing Lines of Missional Engagement

I have spent a good deal of time the last 14 years hanging out with neo-Pagans of all sorts: Witches, Druids, Shamans, and others. They are my friends. This is not just some kind of engagement of an evangelical sort, but a deeper relationship of real friendships and respect.

As a Christian pastor this has required me to think about the depth of my interaction with other religious traditions.

The Apostle Paul wrote about handling the subject of being offered a meal when the food was offered to idols first. He navigated the tricky decision of remaining faithful to God, and not trying not to offend those who offered the meal. He seems to indicate that he would eat without reservation as long as it did not require allegiance to other gods, or appear to make others believe that he had given his allegiance over to other gods.

This has become my basic line of engagement with other religions. I will participate with them in activities which do not involve crossing a line of allegiance away from Jesus, or to another god or goddess. In this way, I can be involved with people of other religions without changing my own religion. Paul must have had to act this same way many times as he navigated ministry in the Roman Pagan world.

When you are with your friends who are involved with a spiritual path which is very much unlike your own, how do you respond to times when their religion is being practiced? Do you avoid those moments? Get involved? or simply watch from a distance? and where do you draw your lines of engagement?


Cern said...

Good post. In response to the question, I tend to watch (not necessarily from a distance) respectfully. As long as that is allowed and I'm not pressed to take part, all is good. :)



Cheryl Scott said...

Phil W ... you are a lost soul in need of salvation...you are also leading others away from Christ...you are a false prophet...your teachings are not of Jesus...I feel very sorry for you and the lifestyle you have chosen is against what God wants for you...what you are interested in embracing...God abhors...I am commanded by the one true God to love you but to hate your sin...you need to repent of your sins...confess your sins...be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and follow Christ's example...you should not be worshiping with witches and others who are not Christians...you cannot worship God, the creator of the universe and the creator of man in one accord and in unity with witches...it is diametrically impossible...they worship the God of this world and Christians worship God almighty...so the goals are diametrically opposed...it is not possible to worship in one accord and of one faith...you are leading people away from Jesus the Savior of the world when you teaching against the living word of God....you are doing so much harm to Christianity...you are crucifying Christ over and over again...you need to learn the scripture before you pastor a church or should I say pastor the church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior...the Son of God...I will pray for you and continue to hate your sin...Cheryl Scott

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Cheryl,

But doesn't the scripture teach that "as far as possible we should live in peace with all people?"

I am a born-again Christian who believes in the salvation through Christ alone, a literal Heaven and Hell, the Trinity, has been baptized as you prescribe above, and as a Pentecostal has been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Yet, I have friends who are Witches and Druids and Pagans of all variety - kind of like having Muslim friends. They are people who believe and live differently than we do. This is because where I live there are lots of Witches.

It turns out that they have come to love me, and our church, and we in turn love them. It just seemed like the right thing for us to do, because we thought that God loved them too.

I certainly don't recall saying above that I worshiped their gods and goddesses. In fact, my point was that I don't. I do not break allegiance to Jesus - He is the only one I worship. So, having said that, I'm not sure what your problem is here, unless you simply misunderstand. I certainly hope that you are not filled with hate for people who call themselves Witches, because that would not be Jesus-like.

May the Peace of Christ find your heart, and make your prayers good ones.