Yesterday I was reading through a thread on Metafilter from a person asking “How do you know you’re in the wrong religion?”
There were, of course, plenty of people speaking against religion altogether, but one post, from Pater Aletheias, really stood out, and I figured I’d quote some of it, as I think it’s worth repeating.
Read some books that have gracious, appreciative looks at various Christian traditions. So much of what we get exposed to are distorted, bitter rants against other believers, we need some kind-heart appreciations of the best in other fellowships.
Boy is this the truth. I remember learning about Catholicism through Teresa, and seeing so much misinformation being swept away by actual facts. Most people, when looking into other denominations or religions, look for information from their current denomination, and thusly only get outsider views from people who most likely only had the intention to lead people away from said belief system. I realized most of what I knew about Catholicism came from a frou page pamphlet. Could you summarize your entire belief system in four wallet-sized pages?
What I realized is that no one denomination can faithfully represent Christ. He is too multifaceted for us to contain. We all get some things right and a lot wrong. And we do nothing perfectly. The whole point of the cross is that we can’t really get it right, so we rely on grace. And if we want grace for our own failings, we should freely offer it when others fail.
And what good would it do me if God forgave my sins but not my erroneous beliefs? I can no more believe perfectly than I can act perfectly. Grace that doesn’t cover doctrinal errors does me no good at all–it would still come down to me having to get something exactly right to earn my salvation, which is completely counter to the story of Christ. If it depends on my perfection regarding anything–speaking in tongues, baptism, Trinitarian doctrine–then I’m damned already, because I just can’t get it right.
His grace is broad and deep. It isn’t the case that we have to be in the “right” denomination. There isn’t one. That doesn’t mean that some aren’t healthier than others, or that you shouldn’t move to one that is less sectarian. But that move won’t save or damn you. God’s love is bigger than that.
I don’t think there’s much I can add to that.
You can read Pater’s full comment here.