to what lengths would you go to keep your faith authentic?

Just been for my interview to St Mellitus in South Ken. A theology college that is part of the Holy Trinity Brompton congregation led by Nicky Gumble. I am hoping to be able to register as a student on one of their theology courses.

Why on earth would why I want to go and study at a college which is based inside an evangelical Church of England congregation when their Christology is in many ways different from mine, when they believe Jesus is God where as I believe he was God’s divine son, and not literally God. Why study at a place where, rightly or wrongly I assume my beliefs will make me an outsider, where I may feel uncomfortable, or possibly (God forbid) make other people feel a bit uncomfortable.

Goodness, there are so many reasons it’s hard to know where to start.

The reasons start from what resulted in me getting involved in the Unification Movement in the first place, feeling called by God for his purposes, feeling that after receiving grace that my life is now indebted to all the love that he had poured into my life.

I am still conscious and aware of that gratitude in my heart for God, Jesus, and True Parents, but it has become dulled. I am wondering if in my current predicament I am able to do the most I could possibly do with my life for building God’s kingdom.

And here are some more reasons why I need to get out to study somewhere new:

  • I am a pastor for a congregation of over 160 people and have no formal theological training,
  • our unification movement though crucial to God’s will is essentially unconnected to the mainstream Christian community, what will we do about that, is it a problem?
  • as a movement of around 1200 core believers here in the UK we have to ask ourselves who should we be standing shoulder to shoulder with, and how do we see God’s will being brought forward in the next 10, 20, 30 years in this country?
  • who in our community actually believes that we alone, will be the ones to bring a spiritual revival to this nation? (I hope  no one.)
  • If it is through working with others who we resonate with, is it them working with us, or us working with them?

I am wondering whether we should be learning much more from our Christian family, and perhaps drawing closer to them. Would that help us to strengthen the foundation of faith amongst our members, would it be even a mission that would help us to grow in our love for God, and humble us in our perceptions of how to serve God and True Parents in these ‘green pastures’.

On a personal level I want to find out if what I believe allows me to be a Christian, (I hope so.) I want to be more sure of how our Principle teaching is a genuine contribution towards helping people to understand God’s will for their life, I want to get comfortable and find joy in praying with people who share the same God as I do, and yet don’t share all my beliefs. I want to find out if that is actually something important to God and not merely a superficial irrelevance particular to me.

I think for many of us who are a bit younger in our community, we should look much more at being able to rest our faith on a strong theological foundation, otherwise I get the feeling things might unravel in rather an untidy way as the older generation pass on and we are left finding ourselves eventually becoming the elders.

Our core teaching and revelation is essentially referenced by the Christian bible and yet most of us have never studied it outside a sunday school setting. We believe True Father, Rev. Moon was commissioned by Jesus Christ, and yet few young Unificationists understand the substance of what is Christian faith and worship.

I sense there is a gap here that we need to fill. And if our theology and revelation has something to contribute to this nation shouldn’t we go out to live our lives with those who believe in revelation, believe in the need for a second coming, and believe in the need for Christ’s love to renew our spirit. Won’t what we hold dear in our heart certainly be passed on if it is true and authentic.

It’s interesting when I have mentioned to people about going to study at HTB, some people have commented they might not like ‘us’. That’s not the point. Firstly it is an assumption, and a similar script to the one we have had in our heads about the media being negative towards us.

But more to the point, if we go out to learn and grow through the wisdom of others what ever we have to offer as True Parents disciples will eventually be passed on by God.

When Paul and Silas sat in prison in Philippi, they didn’t go anywhere when the walls fell down around them, they simply had faith God would allow them to do their mission. They had nothing to run from, no need to escape, they had no sense of enemies. The irony in the words of the Roman guard as he comes in to check on his condemned prisoners is divine:

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:12-40

Rev Moon also looked at his potential and eventual imprisonment in the USA as a situation not to avoid but to walk into. He never needed to fly back to the US from Korea when he was charged, but he did, because he cared more about his mission than his own church organisation. He was living within the freedom of God’s love.

The irony for some of us is that though we are outwardly free, we make ourselves imprisoned in our minds and hearts.

And that is my conclusion; where I do not want to end up is afraid as a result of God’s spirit not living in me.

The answer to church growth and successful witnessing is not really an emphasis on number goals but rather experiencing the freedom and love that God’s spirit brings into our lives, and then making personal decisions to follow our calling.

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About simoncooper

working at 43LG church community in West London

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2 Responses to to what lengths would you go to keep your faith authentic?

  1. Profile photo of Matthew Huish
    Matthew Huish May 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    great conclusion – i hope they accept you onto the course!

  2. Marion May 20, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I saw you on that BBC prog. not long ago and was ‘impressed’ by your genuineness, and open heart. So did a quick search.
    I like many of the things you have said above…such as

    “I am wondering whether we should be learning much more from our Christian family, and perhaps drawing closer to them..”

    I think that it is good to look for what we have in common – as more in common than those outside of both.
    and
    “I want to get comfortable and find joy in praying with people who share the same God as I do, and yet don’t share all my beliefs. I want to find out if that is actually something important to God and not merely a superficial irrelevance particular to me…”

    I think that is really admirable and so honest. Praying with others really pleases God and His Spirit is often tangibly present as He is welcomed by the unity and love.

    While I’m not an Anglican, (I am a non-denominational Christian), I have heard/seen on TV, good teaching and genuine warmth and love from Nicky Gumbel and the previous vicar, Sandy (something), and feel they do have something to offer others outside of ‘Anglicanism’ (they, themselves, aren’t like many Anglicans I have known who are quite Institutional – they are more free).
    It is good to study more deeply the mainstream beliefs of Christianity, even if it’s to be informed about what others believe.

    anyway, all the best in your journey,
    I’ll, maybe, visit this site occasionally, to read how you’re doing if you don’t mind,
    Marion

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