Families of Faith

I grew up in Chicago. Though I have now lived the majority of my life in Florida, I remain a Chicago girl in my heart. I know what a “front room” is. The tallest building in the city will always be called “Sears Tower.” I know the Empire Carpet jingle by heart, and I take my pizza very seriously. However, the thing that most distinguishes me as a Chicagoan is my unequivocal devotion to the Chicago Bears football team. The NFL is a religion in my family of origin, and we live for football season.

Therefore, imagine my delight when I met my husband-to-be and discovered his family of origin had the same faithful devotion to the sport. However, there was a rub. You see, my husband grew up in Wisconsin, so (you guessed it) he’s a diehard Green Bay Packer fan. Anyone who knows anything about NFL rivalries would understand the great angst this might cause. The tension between the Hatfields and the McCoys, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, or Al Capone and Bugs Moran pales in comparison.

Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:28-35)

The Jews were confident that the Gentiles were outside of the mercy of God and, therefore, unclean. In their view, only those devoted to the Law of Moses in every aspect could be considered people of faith in relationship with God. Look like me, act like me, eat like me, and believe exactly as I believe. These were the rules for acceptance as chosen people of God.

But Jesus had something else in mind. In every aspect of his life, Jesus modeled compassion for the broken, grace for the outcast, and acceptance of the rejected. Being part of the family of faith was about relationship, and it was as personal and unique as each individual.

This is a difficult concept. There is something very human about wanting everyone to see things exactly as I see them. How can God’s family extend to those outside of my own denomination, much less to the Muslim, the Buddhist, the atheist?

When did we become the gatekeepers of grace? Why do we believe it’s dangerous to allow God to work that out—that we’re the more capable judge?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Could that “sin that so easily trips us up” be our tendency to exclude others from the family of faith, presuming God’s grace doesn’t reach further than our own understandings? Might our devotion to our own spiritual identity become idolatry and prevent us from the greatest commandment of loving God and our neighbor as ourselves? If so, keeping our eyes on Jesus would most certainly be the best way to avoid such distractions.

Our families and friends don’t understand how we manage it, but as devoted as we continue to be to our own NFL teams, we have found harmony and joy in respecting (and even on occasion cheering on) each other’s teams. This is especially important as our son and his wife are Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, and our daughter shares her husband’s love of the Atlanta Falcons. Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed football season so much.

Tami Cinquemani is Worship Pastor at Florida Hospital Church.

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9678

I lived forty miles North of Green Bay from preschool to the fourth grade.I lived in Chicago for six years during my university years. I still am a Packer fan.

My question is if a household can live with different team loyalties, why must Adventists put down all other Christian denominations…?


Hi Tami,
I Haven’t met you in Orlando but have friends that attend FHC. I am from Atlanta originally and attended UGA so I am an unrepentant bulldog fan. I also like to watch the Falcons play and participate in the “schools of brutality.”
I had 4 units of CPE at FH after attending RTS in Orlando. My problem with “religious inclusivism” is not when we acknowledge God’s “common grace” for all humanity and the fact we should assist others as called for on their particular “faith journey.” My problem comes when it is insinuated that the Christian faith is just “one family of faith” to God.
I think of "1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."Jude 1:1-4
It is silly for SDA’s to feel they have a corner on the Christian faith. What is not silly or unreasonable is that Christians are to defend the faith once delivered. Our/Christian message is not compatible in it’s core of Christ with any other “faith family system.”
Grace has been provided to all types of people but God showed His love in a special way. “In this way God loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believing in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Jn.3:16.
No other “faith family” outside of Christianity believes and teaches this.That is the gate and Jesus is the gate keeper and provided the means for saving grace to all peoples when called that come to Him.
Anything else is Righteousness by Works.


I have been a SDA all my life, including studying only in one same SDA school from 1st grade until finishing college (theology). I learned a lot about “grace” during all those years, sure. However, in Adventism I always heard, “Yes, we are saved by grace, BUT…” Always a big BUT…

Then, from 1997 to 1999 I took a break and attended a very good Baptist Church. Yes, I went to church on Sundays during those 3 years. Sundays morning and evening. Sometimes Wednesday evening too. This was in Brazil, but the pastor was a talented American minister - for me still the best preacher I’ve ever head. THEN, it was there at that time that I really learned about the "true GRACE, " Not the “Grace BUT”…

I am very glad for that experience.


This coming Sunday, is “Trinity Sunday”. [It could also be “Trinity Sabbath”, but
we SDA’s do not believe in the Church Calendar and so do not set aside at least
one Sabbath a year to Celebrate the Trinity.]
John 16:12-15 has Jesus speaking. [the Gospel Lesson] “When the Spirit of Truth
comes, He will guide you into all Truth. He will not speak on His own, but will speak
what ever He hears, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”
***** IS the Holy Spirit directing humans LIMITED to just a few of the 8 Billion persons
on this Earth? OR, does the Spirit talk to all 8 Billion and encourage to do “the will of
the Father” in their lives?
In the Old Testament God was more interested in Kindness, helping orphans and widows.
Treating people Justly. He REALLY didn’t care for all the Trappings of the Religious
Take Ninevah. The guys on the boat who threw Jonah into the raging waters. Elijah
going to a non-Israelite home for 3 years. King Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, Darius.

What about Malachi 3:16-18? Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another.
And the Lord listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before
Him. For those who fear the Lord, And who meditate on His name.
“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts. On the day that I make them My
jewels, and I will spare them. As a man spares his own son who serves him."
Then You shall discern between the righteous and the wicked. Between the one
who serves God And the one who does not serve Him.

PROVERBS 9:13 provides the Definition of “Fear the Lord”. “Is to hate evil.”
PRIDE, and ARROGANCE and the evil way. the PERVERSE MOUTH I hate.
[Arrogance – Attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner.
Unpleasantly proud. Behaving as more important or knowing more than other
Could the Book of Remembrance include a LOT of non-Christians?
Could THEY be considered part of God Jewel Collection??

Do SDAs preach THIS to the “Heathen”? I don’t believe so.


What makes loyalty to a sport’s team comparable to membership in a “faith family”? Are they fuelled by the same human need? Asked another way, why is an identity with an organization, whether a sport’s team or a religious group, make us feel more anchored by such a membership identity? There is something about a chorus of voices, expressing unity, that evokes an emotional response. It happens at a sport’s event; a rock concert; a political rally. Is it the same sense of community that happens at a religious event? Do we mistake this basic human need for community for our devotion and loyalty to God? Stripped from any identity with a religious group, do we have access to God? Is God found only within a worshipping group?

Jesus appeared in the midst of group of people who believed God had led them throughout their history - and lead in a very special way, distinct from any other people. He grew to adulthood within this religious/cultural climate; yet, most of His attention was directed at individuals, other than when he admonished the “group” as vipers and whitewashed sepulchres. Jesus didn’t seem to have much respect for “God’s people” as a group. Maybe that’s because “groups” of all kinds take on a personality and focus distinct from what God is looking for. Loyalty and devotion to a group is not the same as devotion of God. With this in mind, it seems the “family” faith makes, is formed one person at a time, connected by their individual devotion to God, rather than their devotion to the groups they form.


Sirje –
You would like the article on Adventist Today – on relationship with God.
Not just knowing about God.

Uhhhh. Like who fears Him & does right?
Lukewarm Laodicean SDA?
Ephesus SDA who have lost their first love & love the world or things of the world?
Sardis SDA who have a name…SDA and are dead…and are in need of revival after revival.

Or SDA who don’t even know what grace really means or what the gospel or salvation mean?

Thomas: I would suggest it’s inappropriate for them to do so. What about you?

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Thank you for your comments. Interestingly, biblical scholars suggest that the “certain people” referred to in the letter of Jude were Gnostics who, among other things, attempted to erect class distinctions in the church that limited a relationship with God to the intellectual few. This, along with their conviction that “grace” allowed any sort of immorality, certainly was a denial of Christ, what he taught, and how he lived (counter-cultural extravagant inclusivism).

Should we consider that limiting members of the family of God to only Christians (of any denomination) completely leaves out Abraham, Moses, or anyone in the OT for that matter? I believe any “gate” Jesus would “keep” would be flung wide. 

It would be a pleasure to have you join us any time at FHC.

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George: I am glad you had that very valuable experience as well. :slight_smile:

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I taught at a Jesuit University for 8 Years. I taught Sunday school,at Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist Churches. At the opening Of Brandon Wilde Senior Living Center I served as an acting Chaplain for three months. Now as a resident I teach a Sunday’s school class on rotation.

My mother’s family were Roman Catholic, by father’s family were Dutch Reform.

I must say that The Provost at Marquette University was morevChristain than TenWilson by all outward appearances


So how does grace save?

Steve: I would answer, yes - absolutely.

Also - I personally find a lot to value in the traditional Church Calendar; however, I would suggest it’s not something one would choose not to “believe in,” but rather many denominations choose not to follow it.

Well t, you completely misread what I said but thats ok.
Perhaps you dont understand religious pluralism and inclusivism? Different than secular pluralism and inclusivism, which is appropriate.
The main point of Jude is there is one and only faith and it is found on one Lord and Master Jesus. HE is not found in Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism.
All types of people are called. The called accept Christ. The sheep enter the gate because they know Christ’s voice and follow Him.
The king of Israel has come.



Instead, I would contend strongly that it is not the PRESENCE of sin but the ABSENCE of empathy and compassion among us that leads to “exclude others from the family of faith.” Moreover, those who exclude others from the family of faith will also show remnants of exclusion in other domains of life interests. The underlying pathology will always manifest itself along the course of life. A symptom is never solitary, they come in groups.


So Elmer,
There is no uniqueness to Christ and Christianity?

The answer is found in the exchange between the thief on the Cross and Jesus. Certainly there were no works involved



This is hope.

Relationships. Compassion. Loving others as oneself.

God showing no favoritism.


In this scenario, it is character formation.

For instance this can be traced back to Cain, years before “Christ and Christianity” when he murdered his brother. Clearly he had lost his empathy towards his brother. The Lord asked him “Where is your brother Abel” to which Cain replied “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Do you see shades of WO, MH & LGBT?