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"The Truth"

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"The Truth" — a church without a name

We believed that this perfect way was given to us by God and that we were his chosen people. Whether or not members of other religions could go to heaven was a matter of hushed debate.

Hushed debate, indeed, was the only accepted form of discussion. We were to model ourselves upon the example of Christ, and He behaved as a humble man, the Lamb of God.

As far as we knew, this was a continuation of the church that had always been.

We called it "the Truth" amongst ourselves. We told "outsiders" that it didn't have a name. It wasn't conscious; this is just how it was.

The Truth, its ominous name notwithstanding, is really just a subdivision of modern protestantism, and one of many small modern churches.*

It's easy to see why we didn't use this name outside of the church. It sounds ominous, or, — considering the size of the church — maybe just heavyhanded and grandiose.

This particular name, and the way that we had to be discreet about it, helped to foster a kind of secrecy about the church, when we were around "outsiders."

This kind of discreteness — secrecy really — appears to have helped foster the development of a sense of unity and separation that was out of proportion relative to the church's real influence in the wider world. It made the church seem more powerful than it otherwise might. This mysteriousness reinforced our belief that the church was distinct.

But, in consideration of the broader Christian tradition, a belief in "unique trueness" is far from unique — it's not even unusual. Followers of many Christian religions believe that their particular narrow practice is exclusively right.

The so-called namelessness of The Truth is an oddity, but even that is not unique. There are other "non-denominational" Christian churches. It is a compelling part of the equation — why would God name his church, if it were instituted from the beginning and a part of all that is holy? But the singular truthfulness of The Truth is an illusion, however compelling when one is in the middle of it.

The Truth has a unique form, and some unusual features. But it is not singular, and it is not as isolated from the world as its members may think. That's the good news, or the disappointment — depending on how you look at it. For me, it's been liberation.

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*The distinctions between "cult," "sect" and "religion" are pretty arbitrary.

The size of membership may be the only real measurement in any such classification.

Naturally, if one compares two churches of an equal membership and one of them has a form of worship unacceptable to the greater community, then there may be a distinction independent of size.

But, generally, the taxonomy of religion-sect-cult is a matter of opinion and perspective.*

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  ↑ Return to "one of many" ...

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* If "the Truth" were as unusual as its members believe, it would be a cult (unless it really were the One True Church.)

The Truth is abnormal because it is a small religion whose precepts include unique truthfulness. (The Catholic church claims that; but it's big, rich, and powerful. )

The task of labeling the Truth may be challenging for those who categorize. For the skeptical, religions are invented and the distinctions are academic.

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  ↑↑ Return to "opinion and perspective" ...