Q & R: One request ...
Here's the Q:
I just finished reading “A New Kind of Christianity” while being a deployed Air Force Chaplain and I have one request…please expand (or point me where he has already expanded on) his line on the bottom of page 255: “…nor do I believe Christianity (or any religion) is the answer in itself. Of course, I believe it can be part of the answer, but only if it doesn’t see itself as the answer.”
Here's the R:
There's a beautiful song by Noel Paul Stookey that deserves to be shared before I say anything. Here's a simple version of it I found on youtube:
"The fact that you had been replaced by your assistants...." That's the key issue I'm getting at in the sentence you ask about.
To say God is the answer is not the same as saying Christianity is the answer. To say you believe Jesus is the way, truth, and life is not the same as saying the (or a) Christian doctrinal system is the way, truth, and life. To call people to faith in the gospel is not the same as calling people to faith in a religion called Christianity (or any of its subsets). To have faith in Christ is not the same as having faith in a particular religious institution that claims to represent him.
Once we Christians can make that distinction - seeing ourselves firmly in the role of assistants, not usurping God's unique role as Creator and Judge and Savior - then we can be part of the answer. We can assist, but not replace. I would say that the apparatus of every religion faces this temptation - to replace whatever it worships with itself. I hope that makes sense ... Thanks for the good question.