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with style or grace, or even skill.

How would you phrase this?

June 26, 2007 - 3:43 PM

We went to the Iowa Children's Museum today. We haven't been in a few months and it was nice to go back for sure! We have really missed it! We love the ICM! One of the neat things was since we hadn't been in a while we got to experience their "new" exhibit about Indonesia. It is very informational and teaches a lot about Indonesian culture and it also teaches a lot about Islam. They did an absolutely wonderful job on the whole installation!

On one minaret installation it had a description of all the major world's religions on it. Christianity was one of them. Here is what it said about Christianity...

Christian description 1

Christian description 2

For some reason this description seems off? Is it just me? All the paragraphs read a bit funny and seems to read that Jesus was just a prophet and that even though one line touches on Jesus rising from the dead, all other comments really point to the whole "good works" equals heaven line of thinking.

To me, it reads funny (like leaving out sin "for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" and leaving out the Trinity, and the fact that it says at least 6 ways to enter the Kingdom of heaven, and really, 33% practice Christianity?, etc) and the third paragraph in particular keeps making me think of Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

I really want to write a letter to the ICM asking them to change their description and actually, I probably will do so this week. Any extra thoughts on how to sum it up nicely are welcome!

So, how would you sum up Christianity in 4 short paragraphs?

Response to How would you phrase this?

  • Rob said on June 27, 2007 - 8:11 AM

    You have presented a good challenge. Allow me 24 hours to come up with something to give to you.

  • Bruce Hebert said on June 27, 2007 - 2:03 PM

    There are nearly 1,500 different Christian faith groups in North America which promote many different and conflicting beliefs. Further, many groups believe that they alone are the "true" Christian church and that all of the others are in error. How is one supposed to encapsulate the various discrepancies in four paragraphs? To their credit, the ICM did as well as they thought they could. The purpose of the description of Christianity at the ICM is not (and should not, frankly) cater only to a fundamentalist view, even if you see that as correct or basic.

  • Dana said on June 27, 2007 - 2:31 PM

    Thanks for your comment Bruce! (Do I know you? :)!) And please don't get me wrong, I do think the ICM did a fine job with the whole installation. I think you are correct in your description of differing views of Christianity, but I think also that even with all the different groups out there, most people will associate 4 to 5 as the major ones, Catholic, Lutheran, Evangelical, Methodist, Protestant as the majors maybe? My assumption is, all of those major ones would agree that Jesus is the way of salvation and that it is not by works but faith in Christ that we are saved. If there is a statistic that says 33% are Christians, I wonder who those Christians they are saying are and of those 33%, what percentage are of the 5 major religions? Just trying to make the case that I am not saying this as a purely fundamentalist viewpoint, but that I think most people have their assumptions as to what Christian means, and that to cater to those assumptions. Like most people would assume Lutherans are Christians and Lutherans believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, etc. It could be true as well, that this is a personal preference for me and that does not mean the ICM is bad or did a bad job (I do love the ICM). Yet, I still find it important.

  • Bruce Hebert said on June 27, 2007 - 4:14 PM

    Dana - No, I Googled something completely unrelated and through a series of confluences, was brought to your blog. I hope you aren't opposed to randoms popping up here and there. I apologize, as it can't be fun to have comments from random strange gentlemen on a family blog. This world being what it is, can't say I blame you. I should also reassure you that I commented as a "fundamentalist" Christian myself (although I hesitate to use that word). Your points were solid and I apologize if I came off more inflammatory than I had intended. A point that you touched on is that arbitrary 33%. I believe the actual statistic is that 33% of the world identifies themselves as Christian which I would take to mean they profess belief in Jesus Christ as God and follow at least parts of the Bible. Now, this could be extremely liberal Christians who, to you or I, may not be regarded as all that "Christian" but for the purposes of delineating between God, Allah, Krishna, et al, they are Christian. Also, there seems to be a trend these days of (young people??) moving away from mainline denominational Christianity into a sort of amalgamation of Protestantism. Those people would not identify as "Episcopal", "Methodist", "Lutheran", or what have you, but would merely call themselves "Christian". This trend also seems to have people worshipping across-the-board; not being called to follow a particular denomination's theology, they experiment and taste-test. Or, as stated before, join or create generic "Christian" communities of worship. A lot of talk for such a small question: did the ICM do Christianity its full justice? I think so. An immense population of Christians are, in fact, Catholic and as such, subscribe in the "faith without works is dead" doctrine. Can't just leave out more than half of the Christian population. Even as much as many of our fellow "fundamentalists" hate Catholics (although I never really understood that hatred), they do have a point. To live as Christians, we must truly LIVE as Christians. Too many of us spout on and on about salvation as a prize, almost, for our mere faith in Jesus as our Lord. Anyways, I digress. I always enjoy a good theological discussion and if you were trying to bait folks like me into one, you done good. :-) -Bruce Hebert

  • Dana said on June 27, 2007 - 5:51 PM

    HA! My husband will get a kick out of how you found this blog! He often checks my stats and I have come up as number one for "sick broccoli" and other random things. You are welcome of course, though I rarely talk about such theological things, mostly our attempts at gardening, :)! (I would recommend my friend Adam O if you want to join a real place to discuss theology! :)! One of the things I keep thinking about though is that Christianity is about Christ. And I think a major thing that separates Christians from other world religions is that there are these specific things - " perfect heavenly Father," "sin," "need for salvation," and "free gift of God through Christ." In order to separate from all the other religions that were being discussed in the exhibit, and to truly point out distinctions, I would think this would be a good cause to not talk about "good deeds" in the description of what a Christian is. "Good deeds" are found in a lot of other religions, but again, what makes Christianity different is that it is not about our good deeds that saves us. The other thing that should be added in there (that I don't know how yet I want to phrase) is that once a person accepts Christ's free gift of salvation then they are compelled to love God and love others. It does not mean we are without sin, but that we strive to live like Christ and follow His example so that all wo/men may know Christ and subsequently spend eternity with God. "For the love of Christ compels us" to "fill in the blank" to serve others, to love others, to what you could say are "good deeds" but they are not to earn a place in heaven as much as the love of Christ compelling us to something more. I will admit my last two paragraphs in my original post are harsh in tone and not loving toward the ICM. For that I am sorry I did not then phrase myself better. But at the same time, it is another great example of how we need grace and forgiveness as a Christian because boy-oh-boy do we/me get it make mistakes. (I don't say that as off handed about myself either, and it does come with a sincere heart.) Oh my! :)!

  • Wendy B said on June 28, 2007 - 11:58 AM

    When I read the description, I thought most of it was fine, except the part about living a good life to gain salvation. I agree that most bible-believing Christians would say it is a free gift. I agree with you Dana, that it might be profitable to mention to someone. Even if it is just to speak truth to the person who wrote it? Of course, you'd need to be especially careful to be gracious toward them, and not come across as harsh or picky (not that I think you'd sound that way, just thought it worth mentioning.) I don't know if I would offer up an alternative definition to them, unless they ask for one though. Maybe just a quick verbal summary of the gospel?

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