As I was shaking my head over the Nashville Statement, a friend linked me to Pastor Nadia’s counter to it, the Denver Statement. In reading the comments, a couple scriptures were posted, and I thought wow, that’s pretty cool.
The 2 scriptures posted were:
2 Tim 4:3
And in isolation, I’m going yes, cool I get this… and then I think, wow, I bet some could flip those scriptures upside down around and get things totally wrong. I remember one of the things the late Rich Mullins had to say.
“And this is what I have come to think: That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, whom I claim to be my Savior and Lord the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”
And the thing is, there seems to be a fairly loud group of folks who see Christianity as the secure little niche in the world thing just for them and people like them. Consider the errant 4 spiritual law thing, the prosperity gospel thing, and a whole lot of other things which take a few cherry picked scriptures in isolation and create a belief system of sand with the labels Biblical Worldview out of them… and folks fall for it, as after all, it is derived from the scriptures.
But what about the lives of early Christians being thrown to the lions?
And what can we gather about scriptural cherry picking when we consider the temptation of Christ.
Or a hundred plus years ago, what about the churches who embraced slavery as a Biblical Worldview thing, to the point of breaking churches apart, to the point of each side using less than kind language to disparage the others interpretation of the scriptures as I wrote about back in 2009.
I think about well meaning Christians looking for the security of an 1950’s Christianity… I looked up some of my home church records from that era… multiple services, hundreds of people in worship, massive numbers in Sunday school, and youth groups that had enough scale to actually go out and make a substantial difference in the community. That’s some really cool stuff…
Alas, for poor folks, for folks in biracial marriages, for folks of color, women, and lgbtq folks, egads, the 50’s were anything but kind. And yet as an old white straight guy, it is very easy to be blind to their struggles… especially so with that siren song of 1950’s security and privilege.
St Augustine warns us of the dangers of self deception, and the 2 Tim 3:4 trap is an easy one to fall into, perhaps even easier when groups of folks start to self align with it. It seems it goes from ear tickling to the point of ego building pretty fast… and left unchecked long enough resulted in great evils on the part of the church.
Who thought it wise not to condemn racism in a hard core way for fear of upsetting the financial coffers and membership roles during #Charlottesville?
Who thought it a wise thing to release the Nashville statement post Charlotteville and in the midst of #HurricaneHarvey?
Who thinks it a wise thing to encourage suicides and the tearing apart of families as the result of such so called Biblical worldviews?
And while an element of agree to disagree to keep the peace can be prudent over some matters, like worship styles, clothing in church, and other minutia etc… when errant beliefs such as the Nashville statement end up driving kids to suicide, or allowing racism to fester unchecked in the church, agreeing to disagree should no longer be an option.
And this is where it gets hard… some of those signers of the Nashville thing have accomplished great things for the church. Some of their sermons are rock solid out of the park… but just because a individual is a Christian, a great pastor, or seminary professor doesn’t mean they are perfect. In a lot of ways, there are parallels to the church leaders advocating slavery a hundred plus years ago… some of their actions in isolation, were very bad, but this doesn’t transcend to making them as people or Christians bad, it just makes them wrong.
Alas, how to unwind this….