Friday, January 26, 2007

Christians are a bunch of dogs...(please read to understand)

How many times have you been asked, "What religion are you?" and you knew that they really only wanted to know what particular denomination you were. It becomes a little awkward for me when folks ask that. I don't want to sound like I'm correcting them. But it helps to understand that there is a huge difference between religions, faith traditions, and denominations.

Some in the church don't even understand the difference. But I have come up with a little illustration to help folks understand the differences. I use dogs.

There are many breeds of dogs. You have Doberman's and German Shepherds. You have Labs and collies. There are chihuahuas and schnauzers. All of those different breeds of dogs are like the denominations. Each of those dogs has there specific features that makes them different. But they are all still dogs. Each denomination has its specific features that make it different from other denominations. But we all share common features that make us one.

But dogs are also a part of a larger class of animal: canine. What I am about to say is not intended to be derogatory in any way. It is just used as illustration of a point. We see different types of canines in the world. There are dogs, wolves, and coyotes. The larger faith traditions of Protestantism, Catholic, and Orthodox fall into this category of the illustration. Protestantism (with it's many varieties of denominations) would be like the dogs. Catholicism may be like the wolves. The Orthodox could be an illustrated in the coyotes.

It works like this. There are very clear and distinct differences between dogs, wolves, and coyotes. You are very unlikely to confuse them when you look at them up close. On close examination there are evident differences. Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants are similar from a general religious perspective. But as we look closer at beliefs and practice, they are different from one another in significant ways. But we are all still united in the same family.

Finally there is the family of canines. A canine is not a cat of any sort. Or an equine (horse). Religion is like this. Religions are fundamentally different from one another. You can't confuse them up close or far away. They may work with others, but each religion is its own breed of animals.

This may stir the pot or be more confusing. But the next time someone asks what religion, faith, or denomination you are, tell them you're a dog. Then watch their reaction.
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