Let’s Do Away with the Labels and Boxes We Have Created
Updated: Mar 27
I believe that the Enlightenment has done us a great disservice by intensifying the divisions and increasing the barriers that separate us as Christian people from one another. The dualistic nature of the Enlightenment as resulted in the establishment of many labels and boxes that aim to identify us as one kind of Christian instead of another. Thus, we have tended to focus on that which divides and separates us from one anther instead of on the broad areas on which we are united and upon which we agree. We use labels such as, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc., to focus on aspects of Christian belief and practice that are not always central to the Christian faith. Does it really matter how much water is used in baptism and when and how it us applied? I know that such truths are very precious to those of particular traditions and rightfully so, but are they enough to alienate and separate us from one another. There has been much debate, and a lot of heat generated recently days over gay marriage, and many of us adhere very ardently to opposing positions, on both sides of the debate, believing our position to be biblical, but can we not extend grace to those who differ from us recognising that we are each seeking to be faithful to God’s word as we understand it, while recognising that we each tend to follow our personal and cultural biases far more than is healthy when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures.
Are the Enlightenment labels we take on or attribute to one another beneficial to the unity of the Church? Do not the boxes we seek to fit into become ghettos that alienate us from our sisters and brothers in Christ? Far too often we accept dualistic labels that box us in such as Fundamentalist-Liberal, conservative-progressive, Catholic-Protestant, high church-low church, etc., etc. Is it not time to lay aside the labels that separate us and tear down the boxes that keep us in our theological and ecclesiastical ghettos? I think we need to pioneer a fresh perspective that rejects the old Enlightenment dualities. A perspective that refuses to be boxed in and labelled, one that does not seek the middle ground or borrow the best from both sides, but rather a perspective that moves beyond the limitations of Enlightenment dualism. A perspective that is holistic and non-dualistic that lives comfortably with the tensions of apparently irreconcilable opposites without needing to reconcile them. A perspective that takes the Scripture far more seriously than those from opposite polarities have been able or willing to do during the Enlightenment period. I realise that in suggesting this I may get shot at from all sides, but at my time of life I really don’t care; I think it is far too important that we move beyond the sterile posturing of either side of the many Enlightenment dualities to worry about upsetting people. For, it will be only by seeking a new place to stand that we will be able to say, "In Christ, there is neither" Fundamentalist or Liberal, conservative, or progressive, Catholic or Protestant, etc., etc..