Under This Banner...
I walked around a large religious conference where the constituents are struggling as an issue drives a wedge in their group. The issue comes down to the role and authority of scripture in human life. How will understanding of its advice, wisdom, commands, and lessons be applied in and through their expression of faith? Should the scriptures assume the role of a quaint outdated writing that has some nice things in it or as a vital and real guide for living a life of faith?
If I have the control over what I believe and can pick and choose my views cannot apply to anyone else. If each man or woman does that which is right in their own eyes...well, we have been over that territory and the story is in the Bible.
Throughout Christian history there have been times when it was crucial to proclaim, "This I Believe" and to be able to lay out the argument using scripture, reason, experience, and tradition.
Colorful stoles used as solidarity for a position become the banner under which a group goes to war. Where once the cross was lifted up to draw all to Christ now a political or social banner takes its place. The current colorful stoles are just one of a line of substitutes to a vital, passionate faith that identifies sin, made clear the way of salvation, acknowledged atonement, practiced forgiveness, and extended grace and love.