According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evangelical Rejects 2/4 - Refusing to Reject Evangelicals

An Evangelical Reject Who Refuses to Reject Evangelicals 

by Kurt Willems
Last week I posted an article called “You Might Be an Evangelical Reject If…” Many of you read with laughs, perhaps at the picture I created in PowerPoint (as I know zilch about graphic design) or at the clearly tongue-in-cheek nature of the article as a whole. Yet some folks resonated on a deeper level. For you, it spoke into a deep part of your encounters with many evangelicals in local churches.

You know rejection and as fun as it is to poke fun at this, much hurt remains. Sometimes church-ianity within evangelicalism can be brutal.

One theme that comes through the comments is that “its not that we sought to be alienated from the evangelicals in our faith community, but that they rejected us.” This certainly demonstrates where I come from on this issue. Some of you have lost jobs within the church or leadership positions because of some of the “ifs” that I listed or some that fit on your own unique list. Fear gives birth to this rejection.

Many in our evangelical churches are afraid. Afraid to explore. Afraid to disrupt the status quo. Afraid to have congregations turn on them because what is accepted as the Truth in the pew. This reflects the sad state of evangelical discipleship. For us rejects, “easy answers” fluster our souls and present an intellectual gap for missional dialogues. Postmodern culture won’t settle for the so-called right answers and neither should the people of God!

A second theme in the comments of the first post was “what kind of evangelicalism are you hanging around because this doesn’t reflect my experiences?” To answer this, I have a bit of a theory. In the evangelical academy, there’s more freedom to explore than in the average church. Radio preachers and pop-theology influenced the average congregation. Anything that poses a threat to the hyper-literal box conservative modernism put God into relinquishes trepidation for many church attendees. Evangelicalism of this form looks oddly similar to its fundamentalist roots.

A final theme that came through was “yes! Let’s reject evangelicalism!” May I kindly say: no, no, no, NO! I understand this impulse, but in my own journey of becoming a reject, I’m now convinced that an essential truth of Scripture is that God is reconciling all things. Consider the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
I want to draw out three levels of this passage as it pertains to reconciliation.
  1. Cosmic Reconciliation. The new creation has been kick started in Christ’s accomplishment of resurrection. This began the process of God reconciling all of created reality. God is redeeming the cosmos and will return one day to make this process complete. Heaven’s justice will purge earth’s corruption!
  2. Personal Reconciliation. From out of the cosmic healing we’re invited into personal reconciliation as well. Any person who chooses to walk into the relationship that God offers all people, leaves behind alienation and discovers a life made whole as image bearer of the Divine.
  3. Social Reconciliation. Finally, reconciliation is a reality between humans. If God is reclaiming ever square inch of the cosmos and if this includes every individual open to the opportunity, then it follows that we be reconciled to each other. And this includes those who would reject us! This is our message!
Therefore, may those of us who know rejection refuse to reject those in the evangelical church who alienate themselves from us. May we open up our arms to those who would reject us, in order to seek reconciliation to them as much as it depends on us. And may we "rejects" reject anything that appears to reject the reconciling nature of the Gospel of Jesus, including rejecting those who reject us.

I end with a final “if” to consider: You might be an evangelical reject if… you refuse to reject evangelicals.



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