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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Other Views

The many voices of God’s messengers

Commentary by Pat Murphy

Earthlings place terrible burdens on God with their sin and vice, appeals for help and guidance and divine intervention. They’re probably a disappointment, too, in how they use His name and translate what He wants of humankind.

Imagine the babble rising from His flock. The World Christian Encyclopedia lists 10,000 separate religions from A to Z—from, Afghan Zoroastrians to Zimbabwean animists—serving billions of believers, with 33,380 distinctly separate denominations in Christianity, alone, many of them sharply disagreeing on doctrine.

Christianity, the world’s largest religion (2 billion worshippers), has lost ground to second-ranking Islam (1.2 billion), whose rapid expansion has profound implications for coming generations.

Forgetting other religions for a moment, if Christians worship the same God, how come there are so many differing views?

This past week we had the spectacle of Roman Catholic big wigs disagreeing.

Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan, of the Colorado Springs, Colo., diocese, announced he would deny communion to parishioners voting for politicians who support abortion, stem cell research and gay marriages. Conservatives who once feared the Pope’s influence on Catholic President John Kennedy now eagerly recruit Catholic bishops to support their political agenda.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., would have nothing of Bishop Sheridan’s militancy. He, along with others, opposes Sheridan’s use of the Eucharist as a "sanction."

(Interesting: Some of the same religious figures that denounce Islam’s role in foreign governments are themselves influencing U.S. domestic policies.)

Across the Christian spectrum, liberal and conservative clergy are theological opposites. Would God possibly send mixed messages, one for liberals and another for conservatives?

Anti-war Christians don’t share President Bush’s inference he acted in God’s interests in attacking Iraq.

"Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in the world," Bush said in a recent press conference. "And as the greatest power on the Earth, we have an obligation to help spread that freedom," even if it meant spreading "freedom" from God at the point of guns.

How do we account for the fact that openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson believes his sexual orientation is acceptable to God, but 36 other Episcopal bishops opposed his ordination as "incompatible with Scripture"?

And what of faith healing evangelists who claim to have God’s power to lay their hands on the feeble, frail, dying and crippled, and, with little more than a perfunctory prayer, say they can cure them of disease or make them walk?

Funny, but they never show up at, say, a hospital where people sure could use a quick cure. Their mystical "powers" seem sparsely available in other ministers.

With God’s word being given so many interpretations, men and women of the cloth seem to have strayed from one of the Bible’s key passages.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10, "that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.