Christian? by Rev. Casey Moffett-Chaney

March 8, 2020

“I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I always think, ‘Already? You’ve already got it?’ I’m working at it. And at my age, I’ll still be working at it at 96.” – Maya Angelou, American poet (1928-2014)

Introduction from Kathleen

Has anyone ever asked you, “Are you a Christian?” That question recently came up when I was in conversation with a few other independently trained and licensed ministers. Because we do get asked that! If pressed, my best response has been, “I’m outside the box of church, yet inside the circle of God.” One of the ministers had a response that had never occurred to me.

Let me introduce you to a colleague, Rev. Casey Moffett-Chaney. She is the retired minister of Portland Center for Spiritual Growth. Enjoy!

When pondering the question, “Are you a Christian?” I suddenly revisited the origins of my spiritual path. I was a music education major in college. I didn’t understand what was happening to me at the time. Why were we music majors headed in one direction for our classes, all the religion majors headed in the opposite direction. I felt a huge tug on my heart during those times, as if I was supposed to be going with the religion majors. This always struck me as strange, because I was not raised religiously. In fact, I was raised Jewish, but at that, not in the least bit orthodox.

Suffice it to say, I graduated and taught public school music for 10 years. Then I was introduced to New Thought by means of a 12-Step Program. All of that old heart tugging became foremost in my consciousness, and I realized that I wanted to be a rabbi. The main problem with this, was that I had no desire to move to Ohio or New York to study for several years. Even if I did, it would’ve been impossible, because at that time, being female, meant that I would not be accepted in the program anyway.

Enter New Thought, and in particular, the New Thought church down the road from where I lived. I enrolled in the ministry program, graduated in three years, became licensed as a minister, and ultimately, ordained. my Jewish roots played a huge part in this ministry, but I was not a Jew for Jesus. That would have implied that I believed in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, having died for my sins. This was simply not the case. During my studies, I had grown to love the Sermon on the Mount from the book of Matthew In the New Testament of the Bible.

The Sermon on the Mount was as close to a classroom setting as any other story from the entire Bible. In short, it says that Jesus went up onto a hill of sorts, and a whole bunch of people followed him. As soon as all those students we’re sitting and listening, Jesus began to teach. “Blessed are the meek…” I found an awesome book by Emmett Fox, called, The Sermon on the Mount, and proceeded to devour it. From this book and Emmett Fox’s teaching, I came to realize that the entire Sermon on the Mount was the essence of Jewish Law.

For the next 24 years, I was the senior minister for the Portland Center for Spiritual Growth. During that time, I was asked to define the spirituality called New Thought. Most often I was asked if it was Christian? I responded by saying…

New Thought is the Judaism that Jesus taught.

Then I would refer them to the Sermon on the Mount. If directly asked if I was Christian, I responded with…

Jesus is my teacher.

Now, this did not always make the asker happy, but, oh well, it was and is my truth. I have been known to suggest that the asker feel free to take their concerns to Jesus directly. And by all means, feel free to pray for my soul. I can use all the help I can get!

Curious about Jews for Jesus? Here’s one website that might answer your questions:

What to know more about New thought?

More on the Sermon on the Mount – The Sermon on the Mount, chapters 5-7 in the gospel according to Matthew, contains the most important teachings of Jesus. The Sermon begins with the Beatitudes, and their call to humility, peacemaking, purity, and righteousness, and continues on to sharp condemnations of anger, lust, revenge, and hypocrisy, and then to the beautiful exemplar of the Lord’s Prayer. This is followed by strong admonitions against materialism, worry, and judging others. But it’s not all “thou shalt not,” for the Sermon on the Mount ends with Jesus’ encouragement for his followers to pray frequently and fervently, to live by the Golden Rule, to bear good fruit, and to build on the rock.