Sunday miniblog: Doctrinal differences

Sunday miniblog: Doctrinal differences

Doctrinal differences

Yes, but explaining it to small people who like things in nice, neat absolutes is the problem.

Sunday miniblog: Here we are at Easter again! Whew, Lent is over and Little Princess is celebrating her return to Instagram. I still have six regular days of blog posts to get back to, but here is my last Sunday miniblog. Six years later, here are some thoughts I am still pondering ...

What if their doctrine is different than yours?

April 11, 2008

How do you explain Jehovah's Witnesses to a small child?

Or Jews?

Or any other religion whose outward trappings, if not internal doctrine, contradicts your own?

I struggle with this. On the one hand, I strongly believe in the words of a song on one of our Vacation Bible School CDs: "Jesus said to love everybody, love everybody, love everybody. Jesus said to love everybody, just like he loves me."

On the other hand, I believe in the particular theology practiced by my own church. And well, while I pray that "we all may be one" in faith, it ain't necessarily so.

I had a particularly hard time during Easter. The Jewish leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus, the Sunday School lessons told my Princesses. They saw him as threatening their authority. They didn't believe he was the Messiah.

The Princesses get that. What they don't understand is that Jewish people still live today. But Mommy, don't they know Jesus really WAS the Messiah?

Um. Well, no, they still don't believe that.

But they're wrong, aren't they, Mommy?

(Long pause while Mommy desperately scrambles for an answer.)

Well, WE believe they are, yes. We believe Jesus is the Messiah. But the Jews were God's chosen people. Maybe he has another plan for them. We can't know the mind of God. It's OK for them to believe differently than we do.

(Sunday School teachers from Mommy's childhood rise up as one in her memory, looking very stern. Oh, no, it isn't, they insist. Your job is to bring people to heaven through Jesus! No man cometh to the Father except through Him!

Shush, I tell the teachers, though I squirm with guilt. I'm telling them that. But I can't tell my children to tell Jewish people they're wrong.)

Flash forward. Mommy and Slightly Older Princess are walking down a sidewalk. Coming toward them on the same sidewalk are two clean-cut, smiling young men in nice dark suits. "Do you have a minute?" they call cheerfully.

Mommy, who has been nursing a slight fever and stuffy nose since the morning and is thinking of nothing other than getting home as fast as possible, groans inwardly. "No. Not today," she says, sharper than she'd meant to.

"Were they salesmen?" SOP wants to know as Mommy hustles her into the car. "Did you recognize them?"

What to say? I have no philosophical problem with the way Jehovah's Witnesses approach the sharing of the Word. I admire their courage and strength of conviction. But I just wasn't in the mood.

I try to explain this. SOP looks puzzled but doesn't press the issue.

SOP and her sister are still so very young, and their community is so very WASP. They've had very little exposure to people who believe differently, or don't believe at all.

I want them to have open, loving hearts. I want them to accept people as they are. I want us all to comfortably coexist in the knowledge that God loves us all the same, no matter how - or if - we love Him back. I don't want to be part of the Inquisition, or the Crusades, or the jihads around the world. I want us all to love everybody, love everybody, just like he loves me.

But that's a hard stance to take when so many religions, including my own, exhort followers to spread the Word. And as this career teaches me every day, that same Word can be interpreted in so many different ways.

— Jennifer Moody says alleluia, He is risen, and is fine if you don't say 'He is risen indeed, alleluia,' back.


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