Posted by: minnow | December 31, 2017

Maybe I Am a Heretic

Interesting word–heretic. It’s definition runs the gambit from dissenter to idolater.  I guess the intended meaning depends on who uses the word. When I first started blogging I wrote about politics, the Church, and my personal journey. I spent a lot of energy warning fellow Christians about becoming judgmental, twisting scripture to fit their singular bias, and driving people out while intending to love them in. Their reaction was less than receptive. I was told I sounded angry, warned to tone it down or risk offending my “brothers (and sisters)”, and in extreme cases labeled a heretic destine for hell.  Some who knew my situation pointed out my lack of regular church attendance as further evidence toward my ultimate destination. Though truth be told, I left the building in search of God, not because I’d lost my faith.

It has long been my not so humble opinion that rather than being havens, buildings with the primary function of a once a week gathering, have become millstones around the necks of their congregants. The larger and more glorious they are, the less cost effective. The classic pyramid leadership structure embedded in most of these organizations is equally restrictive and consumptive. Not only do they provide little opportunity for more than the same couple voices to be heard they swallow up the little remaining resources generated from the tithes and offerings of their congregations in order to keep the few at the top of the pyramid employed.

Like me, a growing number of men and women have responded to those problems by blazing their own spiritual trails. Some continue to infiltrate more traditional circles in order to reroute stuck thinking and provide safe places within hostile waters but most have formed alternative fellowships, like The Refuge in Broomfield, CO, where the marginalized are welcome, valued, and nourished and where ministry to the marginalized is on-going. Individuals who have not found like minded faith fellowships plug in to non-religious organizations which are focused on positive participation in the greater community. Their faith is fed by joining with others to practice the Gospel Jesus preached. The overarching connection among these new expressions of the Church is their inclusive nature, outward focus, and fellowship in action.

The emergence of a reformed expression of the Church has caused some confusion and more than a little frustration within traditional ranks. As their numbers decline, those left behind instruct one another to reject the legitimacy of these new trail blazers.  Leaders like Franklin Graham, Denny Burke, John Piper, and James Dobson feed fear and distrust. They have labeled this new wine as worldly, deceived, or worse.

Last August this division came to a head. A group of self-described evangelical leaders produced a document called the Nashville Statement. In its preamble the statement asks, “Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life?” These are profound questions. I wish the authors of this statement would ask themselves the same thing, for they have missed the mark.

Not only does the Nashville Statement fall seriously short of Christ’s example of love–so powerful it casts out fear and cannot be destroyed, removed, or diminished–it focuses almost exclusively on policing human sexuality, specifically within the LGBTQ communities. So, before you embrace the judgment of the Nashville edict, consider what a friend I met on FB has to say regarding good and bad fruit. And remember, Jesus promised to send the Spirit to each of His followers. You should trust the Spirit to be your teacher as you read or listen to any teaching from Man. Also remember, scripture is full of parables and passages designed to help us discern between good and evil. For example, as parents, we are warned not to exasperate our children and reminded that when they ask for bread we do not give them a stone. More than once we are told, forgiveness (when there is something we must truly forgive) is meted out to us in the manner we bestow it on others. And love, scripture reveals, covers a multitude of sins.

Sins–individual acts of wrong doing. These are harmful. They damage our relationships and impede our progress toward becoming the people God called us to be. Left to multiply they can consume a person’s life. But sins and Sin are not necessarily one in the same. Sin separates us from God. The real “spirit of this age” is the same “spirt of this age” Jesus warned against when he called the teachers of the law and the Pharisee blind guides and hypocrites. Ego, lust for power and position, greed, a judgmental heart–these are the sins of separation, the attitudes that keep us from building relationship with one another and trusting God to do the rest. These are the sins that become Sin by destroying the unity of the Body and feeding us verses them mentalities. So, if I am a heretic for standing against that which divides and embracing that which brings together then AMEN to heresy, for all are welcome at the table laid out for Christ, including the heretic.

 

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