I happened to see a question submitted to answers.yahoo.com: “What is the difference between interfaith and intrafaith boundaries?”
Someone replied: “There is no such thing as intrafaith boundary.”
I was relieved to see that of the six responses to that reply, all were thumbs-down.
If we didn’t know that Christianity has intrafaith boundaries, we certainly know it now that election polling results are in.
According to The Washington Post, 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN), even though a group of 100 evangelical leaders posted a declaration before the election stating that they would “not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that (HWSNBN) has consistently and deliberately fueled . . .” Divisions within evangelical Christianity continue to widen, as Jim Wallis, evangelical author and founder of Sojourners, said he felt Christians who voted for Trump “ought to be embarrassed.”
Progressive Christianity, of course, is used to being out of the mainstream. But now, many are declaring a new area in American Christianity. In What Progressive Christians Need To Do To Take Back Their Faith, Pastor Jacqueline Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan declares, “Maybe what’s happening is progressive people of faith are finding ways to connect around our shared beliefs that all people are children of God. All of those people are joining together right now, we’re crying together, plotting and planning how to resist together. That to me is the new religion, the new Christianity.”
Emerging Church leader Benjamin Corey suggests that progressive Christians should start evangelizing among other Christians: “We need to continue converting Christians to following Jesus. We need to create disciples, and reach evangelical Christian Americans with the gospel of Jesus.”
Some are even calling for a new “confessing church” like that in Germany, when pastors and churches banded together to resist the Nazi regime. For example, Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent in the Wesleyan Church, said “I wonder if we may be heading toward a confessing church as opposed to a nationalistic church.”
The question is: will Christians of differing stripes be able to engage in meaningful dialogue with one another?
Many are advising that we must reach out across the boundaries and listen to those with whom we disagree. I can’t argue with this; it’s what I advocate in my book, The INTRAfaith Conversation. But most of what I’ve been hearing is “not yet.” The shock and anger are too raw.
What shape will Christianity take in this new era? Will we be able to cross our intrafaith boundaries? It was difficult before the election; it’s even more so now.
Time will tell.