Ancestry mingled with Religion

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by CF1, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. CF1

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    My wife and I just had a conversation at breakfast about how to reach out to neighbors who have a heart to seek God earnestly but are very attached to a denomination that teaches "Tradition plus Bible" as the foundation.

    We also have a Bible study in our home on many Sunday nights and the several people in the group come from a background of denominations that are the same way. We hear them working through their struggles with their former denominations - sometimes they are critical of them and happy to be out; other times they feel a fond remembrance of mothers, family, and memories. It's a love - greif relationship.

    We were discussing that these friends and neighbors feel an attachment to the ancestry part of their denomination. When they turn their back on that denomination and seek grace through faith in Christs death on the cross alone, they are painfully turning their back on their ancestors traditions. Some of their ancestors turned their back hundreds of years ago when Martin Luther led a reformation. Others' ancestry goes back many centuries in the Roman Catholic religious Traditions.

    But it seems deeper than just Tradition. It is as deep as their ancestry, which is in their DNA. If your ancestry was Irish, just for example, and you said being Irish is no longer so important. It's just a historical fact. Irish is not most important in Christ's eyes. My soul wants to follow and be devoted to Christ as the most important part of my heart. Think of the measure of grief you would have to let go of some part of your emotional connection or pride in your ancestry, your loved ones in your past. Maybe this pride is unjustified, or sinful, but it is still there.

    This seems to be similar to the challenge we have to reach out and reconcile people to God's pure and undefiled, unpoluted truth of the deep deep love God has for them.

    We are trying to untangle ancestry from God's pure love. There is a greiving process for people to go through.

    Somehow they need to see God's beauteous love as more warm, more inviting, more attractive, more lovely, than all of their loving memories of their ancestors that have gone before them and laid a train track for them to follow on.

    How can we help with this process? How can we show Christ's pure love in a way that makes it possible for them to leave behind the past.

    What we've seen in our home Bible study is that it does not always happen easily or quickly for some people. They slowly disengage and re-engage in a new path. How can we help them engage to see the riches of God's grace? Please share ideas on this topic so we can have a heart that yearns even more to help these people who are so much loved by God.

    Matthew 19:29 (New American Standard Bible)
    29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
     
    #1 CF1, Dec 12, 2009
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  2. Marcia

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    I'm sorry, but I don't really understand the issue. Can you give a more specific concrete example of where "ancestry" is in conflict with being a Christian? I can see it with people holding on to superstitions or something like that, but otherwise, I'm not sure I know what you mean.
     
  3. CF1

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    Sorry, here is a more concrete example. Grandparents want the parents to have their children baptized as infants, which is part of their old tradition and what their ancestors practiced for as many generations as they can remember. In this way the whole ancestry is co-mingled together with their traditions and practice.

    Maybe your question is a good one. Maybe people do mostly separate their ancestry from their traditions and don't see them co-mingled. Maybe I'm taking this concept too deep. But maybe not entirely for some people. I just see the emotional pull.

    Last Sunday at our Bible study when some former Catholics and Lutherans were complaining how wrong their former denomination was to baptize infants, one of the people had to get up and leave the room for a moment. When we prayed for those who were needing to see God's truth about this matter, she also had to leave the room during the prayer. We know her well and her mother really wants her to come back to her former denomination to be part of the family.

    When our Catholic neighbors want to change the subject and not talk about grace alone, they are pushing us away because their parents, grandparents, and long history of ancestors stand behind them in their minds.

    Does this help provide real concrete examples of what we are experiencing?
     
    #3 CF1, Dec 12, 2009
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  4. Marcia

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    Somewhat, although I would not term it a problem of ancestry so much as a problem with religious background/upbringing/tradition. That is different to me.

    In this case, you are dealing with theological issues. It is hard for some people who are raised with infant baptism, as an example, to see that as wrong. But I think if they are a believer in Christ, they could accept it. If they are not a believer or are a believer but in some bad teachings, they might have an issue.

    When you say someone had to leave the room, was this person still a Catholic or Lutheran, or had he/she come from that background and is a believer but is not yet on board with a believer's baptism?
     
  5. CF1

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    Correct, she is still a member in the Lutheran church, and considers herself a Lutheran, but she is conflicted. Part of her want's to become baptised as an adult and leave. The other part is tied to her parents, grandparents, and other "ancestors" for generations. It's an emotional tie, not a logical tie.
     
  6. Marcia

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    Thanks for clarifying. I see your issue. I commend you for your heart for these people and the time spent in discipling them. That is quite a commitment!

    I would have to think about this. Of course, there is always what Paul wrote about putting his past behind him.
     
  7. CF1

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    Thanks Marcia, let's meditate on that verse a moment

    Philippians 3 (New American Standard Bible)
    13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
    14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Yes, this verse is useful to encourage people to reach forward rather than look backwards.

    Are there other verses like this?
     
    #7 CF1, Dec 12, 2009
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  8. CF1

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    My wife just stopped by and added more of what she sees here.

    She thinks a better word might be to call it "heritage" rather than "ancestry" comingled with religion. I think for some Catholics, who think back centuries of generations, even the word ancestry might even apply, but maybe heritage is more often a better word that applies to more people who don't think so far back in time. Well, either way it is an emotional tie, not a logical tie. That much we agree on.

    More from my wife - People are risking a huge family feud by becoming baptized as an adult. We know people who this has happened to. The parents feel rejected--like their kids are undoing everything they have laid out for them very carefully. It's hard.

    How can we help them practically?
     
  9. Zenas

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    Ancestry, heritage, whatever. It's one of the strongest stabilizing forces in our lives and it's why a great many of us are where we are. I'm reminded of a line by Garrison Keillor as he described the Lake Wobegon Christmas pagent on Prarie Home Companion (It's on NPR on Sat. afternoon). "The wise men would proceed in single file to where the Christ child lay. We naturally assumed that Joseph, Mary, the Christ child and the wise men were all Lutherans." :laugh: As you talk to these people, try to remember how you would feel if your adult children were listening to and about to be converted by ________________ (insert whatever faith you regard as completely apostate).
     
  10. CF1

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    This is helpful! We need to seek to really understand them. This passage came to mind in this regard.

    2 Corinthians 5:18 (New American Standard Bible)
    18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
    19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
    20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

    How else can we be part of the Holy Spirits plan and God's hearts desire on how to approach such a stabilizing emotional force in people's lives?
     
  11. Magnetic Poles

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    What is wrong with leaving other Christians be, and not trying to make everyone have the same opinion as you?
     
  12. CF1

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    I looked over a number of your posts to try to understand you better. You certainly are a prolific poster! I was led to pray for you. Dear Lord I pray for this person above who is somewhere in his journey with you, just as we are also on a journey to know you more. Please help him to accept love and to heal any wounds he may have, in the same way we all need your healing and compassion every day. In Jesus name Amen.
     
  13. Marcia

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    But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
     
  14. CF1

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    Thanks Marcia, that's another good verse to meditate on and hear what the Holy Spirit is helping us to believe more completely.
     
  15. Magnetic Poles

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    That's all well and good, but how about answering the question?
     
  16. Salty

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    Making someone having my opinion is not important to me. What is important is that someone have the opinion of the Bible.


    For example, the other day, I met a Pentecostal. The subject of Tongues came up. I asked her if her church followed the "Rules" of I Corinthians 14. Its amazing how some will try to justify speaking in tongues when it is not scriptural.

    Or how about a person who has only been sprinkled, Of course I would try to show them that scriptural baptism is immersion.

    It is not a matter of me saying "I told you so" but rejoicing when the sheep is found!

    On the other hand, I can have Christian fellowship with a Pentecostal, COC, Methodist ect. My main emphasis though is to share the Gospel - ie Salvation - to the Lost.

    I supposed a great time could be had if a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Baptist could all lead their fourth friend to the Lord in salvation!

    Salty
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Or perhaps, if the immersionist fully understood the biblical and theological basis for baptizing an infant.

    I am not defending it, but even Anglicans do not sprinkle infants because it is convenient. With Presbyterians, it is a question of the Abrahamic covenant.

    I think modernity has robbed some things from their doctrinal basis.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. CF1

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    Maybe the "concrete example" of baptism is too controversial. Maybe we can save that for another post and profit more spiritually by steering ourselves back to just general challenges with how to evangelize people who have their ancestry, heritage, etc co-mingled with religion so much that they are unable to make a break with thier ancestry and heritage and look to the Bible with an open minds for what God is saying to them.

    So here is perhaps a more clarified questions to steer us towared growth:

    How can we effectivley evangelize and bring more people to the saving knowledge of the Lord when we see people entrenched in their heritage, ancestry, or past and it is keeping them from the love of the Lord?
     
  19. Marcia

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    I am thinking you might get better input by asking a moderator to move this thread to another forum, like perhaps the Witnessing/Evangelism/Missions forum, a Pastors forum, or one of the Fellowship forums.

    This is a debate forum here where you have this, but this thread is not a debate nor obviously meant to be one. In fact, I think you are trying to avoid debate. So it would probably fit better in another forum. Just a suggestion.
     
  20. Revmitchell

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    What does that mean?
     

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