Saturday, December 15, 2007

Can a 'Cultist' Have the Holy Spirit?

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: What do you say to the Jehovah's Witness or the Mormon who claims that the Holy Spirit speaks to him just as much as the same Holy Spirit speaks to the Orthodox Christian when clearly they believe completely different things.

MICHAEL: God/Spirit has no regard for religious titles, theoretical beliefs or rational doctrinal statements, but rather for behavior. The fruit of the Spirit is not beliefs, but actions and attitudes (love, joy, peace, etc.). Jesus made this clear over and over with the sermon on the mount, his other teachings and especially by his parables; for example, the Good Samaritan was doctrinally wrong, geographically mistaken and ethnically impure. Yet when a severely wounded man lay along the path, this religious heretic rendered humane behavior to a fellow human while the biblically pure Levite and priest walked right by the poor man.

When I was an evangelical minister and seminary teacher, I used to marvel at the kindness and compassion shown by certain Jehovah's Witnessess, Mormons or Buddhists, and would contrast their behavior with some of the arrogant, intolerant, miserable, impatient 'Christians' around me. When the Puritan Roger Williams was accused of heresy and chased out of New England by his Christian 'brothers' and taken in by the Indian 'savages' to found Providence, Rhode Island, Williams was famous for saying, "I'd rather live with the Christian Savages than with the savage Christians."

Of course there were loving Christians and intolerant JWs, Mormons and Buddhists – but I began to see that the evidence of Spirit was in behavior, not beliefs. Sadly, evangelicals have made 'beliefs' the fruit of the Spirit.

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