That is the question - sort of. Well, not THE question, but an important question depending on the context and what you had for dinner.
With the amazing revelations in recent years concerning God's grace and love, there has been renewed hope for the reconciliation of the church or "body of christ" into the ever elusive unity that the bible states is the one thing that sets us apart - and the one thing that the church, despite 2000 years of trying, has never achieved on any level.
This really sucks, and I'm quite amazed that we have kept on trying for so long, although only halfheartedly, and generally deciding that its only worth bothering to inflict unity through control.
We have had a lousy track record. And it aint getting any better.
So what's wrong with this picture? Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Hmm, guess the church is officially insane, and there is probably more truth to that than I would go into in this particular blog.
Again, it could be something to do with my famous slogan, that is probably sending everyone crazy - yes - paradigms!!
We keep thinking that everyone believing correct doctrines is the bottom line, and that as we accept (read tolerate) those who differ, we can slowly bring them around to these correct doctrines. But if love is the bottom line, which scripture does seem to indicate, then we have a serious problem at the most basic level. Besides what is correct doctrine?
What if our whole concept of church is wrong? What if the horse we are flogging died about 1900 years ago, and is so dead it doesn't even smell anymore - its just a mummified body that's been mutilated beyond recognition?
Perhaps the whole purpose of this recent revelation of grace is to show us that dead horse so we can bury it. But what does that leave us with? First it means that trying to sort out doctrine will never work. But there is so much adherence to doctrine that its like flogging a dead horse (yes I know...) trying to get past it.
To make matters worse, if you try to make love the central issue you have to confront the reality of the dead doctrines and the damage they do. The fruit of doctrines (all doctrines really) may look good to those who benefit from them, but what is the real fruit. You see, the fruit is the defining point, the thing that says love or not love.
When we look at the fruit of every doctrine of the last 2000 years, can we see good fruit? I don't mean the odd exceptions of charity and individuals who just got on with loving, I mean the big picture that sets the church apart so that its known by love?
When we look at the present church, is the fruit really love? Or is it exclusivism, intolerance, dogma, and even now, there are those who have taken "love" and made it a doctrine to be argued and analyzed, manipulated and abused - yet again.
What if real love isn't afraid to confront the "bad fruit", just like Jesus did? What if its actually OK to splinter and tear apart the church because what we think is the church really isn't the church?
What if God actually wants christianity as it is currently displayed and lived, to completely implode, so that love can be free to rise up, unhindered?
I was blocked by an old Facebook friend because of my stance on issues such as hell, universalism and the inerrancy of the bible, all to the tune of "our fathers traditions and the 2000 year old traditions of the church are indisputably the basis for christianity". The absurdity of this statement is mind boggling, especially given his own departure from mainstream traditional beliefs, but for many christians, there is some arbitrary line that must not be crossed, although that line keeps moving!
So in my usual manner I've waffled all over the place, and need to return to the point -
Is it love to continually support a system of doctrines that bears little or no good fruit? Is it love to expose the glaring failings of that system, even if it means challenging the most sacred of its fundamental doctrines? Is love just niceness and tolerance, or is it challenging each other to live with integrity and keep pushing the limits of love without bigotry and traditions blinding us?
Was Jesus loving when he tore shreds off the Pharisees?
In many ways, the lines have been drawn, and although there will be fallout, the world will be a better and more loving place for it.
"Christianity" is dead - but God is very much alive, making sure it stops kicking!