In the Oct. 19 issue of The Spectrum, Fabio M. Albertin defended himself against accusations of favoring censorship and opposing religious freedom. Responding to a previous letter by law student John Jennings, Albertin claimed that, as a member of a minority religion, he is a strong advocate of First Amendment rights.
After labeling Selena Hughes' compassionate expression of Christian ideas and opinions (which appeared in the Oct. 12 issue) "mindless religious crusading," Albertin naively added that among the world's religions with which he'd had contact, only Christianity claimed exclusivity. What of Islam's Five Pillars? Without adhering to them one remains an infidel. What of Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and Eight-Fold Path? Without recognizing those truths and following that path, it is impossible for one to attain nirvana. Before intense governmental persecution extinguished the impulse, a great segment of Judaism sought to proselytize gentiles to fulfill Israel's purpose of bringing YHWH's salvation to the whole world (or as Yeshua ha-Meshiach put it, "Salvation is of the Jews") and to hasten the arrival of the promised Messianic kingdom of Adonai.
Despite his protestation that he supports free speech, Albertin asserted he "would not mind Christianity's claims if they weren't broadcasted by so many of its followers." The heart of Christianity is the love of God in Christ - and He told His disciples, "If you love me, keep my commandments." One of the last commands He gave was to proclaim His gospel (Matthew 28:19-20a and Acts 1:8). Authentic Christianity is evangelistic. Evangelism is not converting someone. Only God's spirit can do that. Evangelism is passing on the good news, which every individual Christian is commanded to do as a perfect expression of love not only for God, but for one's neighbor.
Albertin concluded, "I believe that every person should decide on his or her own what they [sic] believe in instead of just tagging on to some group." Christianity is certainly an individual's direct, personal relationship with their God and Savior, Jesus Christ - but it also means being spiritual family members in the mystical Body of Christ, His church. Authentic Christianity requires fellowship, being a loving community. Every individual Christian is commanded not to forsake assembling with others for mutual admonition and encouragement, spiritual maturation, discipline and accountability (Hebrews 10:25 and elsewhere).
The earliest description we have of Christians' activities is that "they devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings and to fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. ... All believers were together. ... Every day they continued to meet together. ... They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God" (Acts 2:42, 44, 46-47a). Christianity is, as some say pejoratively, "an organized religion," a group activity. Or, as a 16th-century evangelist, Hans Denck, wrote so well, "No one can come to Christ except together with one's brother" or sister.
Jesus told His disciples to love one another as He loved them. He said that the world would marvel at their love for one another. May Fabio M. Albertin some day come to experience that love for himself.