Ok, so onto part 2...different convictions in the same belief system.
I laugh a little thinking that I could even begin to address this in the form of a blog, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.
I do not pretend to be the most knowledgeable Bible person around, but I have been a Christian for 30 years, did attend Bible College and have read the Bible many times. All of the different denominations have always been a bit curious to me. It is not so much that people have different thoughts about things that are said in the Bible that bothers me, but the fact that we fight over them - ridiculous.
This is the way I see it.
There are not many things in the Bible that are essential in terms of salvation. No, I really believe that. I believe that it is made abundantly clear that we need to be believe in Jesus. Believe that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life and died in our place for the atonement of our sins. And honestly? That's about all we HAVE to believe in order to belong to the body of Christ.
It's all the other stuff that we get hung up on and that causes fighting amongst us and makes us look silly to people who don't believe. I heard this saying back in my Bible school days:
In the essentials - unity
In the non-essentials - liberty
In all things - charity
Christianity is not about belonging to some club where everyone is exactly alike. Have you ever looked around the earth? The one God created? It is nothing if not diverse. God is creative and quite obviously likes things to be unique. Each of us is an individual with out own personality, our own history, our own feelings about issues and our own way of dealing with life. To think that we would all arrive at the same conclusions about all things Biblical is pretty close to insane.
You know what?
I think God likes it. I think He likes the fact that each of us has to think, pray, struggle and put forth some effort to arrive at our conclusions about Him and about this life. I think He likes it because that is what having a relationship is all about. He is not afraid of our questions and we shouldn't be afraid of each others.
His love and grace is big enough to hold us all - regardless of whether or not we believe the rapture will happen before or after the tribulation.
Know what I mean?