Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Monday, April 19, 2010

Evangelicals

A few posts ago, in the comment section, someone asked me what I meant when I used the term "Evangelical".

Which was an interesting question to ask someone like me - someone who takes evangelism seriously but would never EVER be welcomed among the ranks of 'Evangelicals' - but mostly because I don't think most Evangelicals themselves agree on what it means to be an Evangelical.

To my mind, it's a lot like being a member of a political party. For example, it's not enough, anymore, to call yourself a 'Republican'. The question becomes much more nuanced. Are you a 'conservative', 'moderate',  'Tea Party' ("Orthodox") or 'Tea Bagger' ("Right Wing Nut") Republican?

So, I'm going to go where not many Progressive Christians have dared to go and talk about what 'Evangelical' means to me.

I know there are lots of Evangelicals who read this blog. Sometimes, they can't stand it and send me really hateful comments. All signed "Anonymous". Of course. So, I suspect this will make its way round the Evangelical circles. I will try to post as many comments as I get. I won't, however, post gutter snipes and personal attacks.

You have been warned.

Okay - so a GREAT BIG disclaimer here, right off the bat - for all my Evangelical friends out there: I am not attempting to define or redefine what it means to be Evangelical. Only YOU can do that for yourselves. 

This is only one perspective - my perspective as a Progressive Christian. Okay - one who is grounded in Anglo-Catholic theology but with Evangelical and Charismatic. . . um . . . tendencies.

In case you're wondering, this means that I do not speak for ALL Progressive Christians. I am only speaking as ONE Progressive Christian who is writing, in this instance, of her perspective of Evangelicals which has been informed more by experience than what I've read and studied and learned about Evangelicals over the years.

It's not that I haven't read and studied and learned stuff about Evangelicals. I have. I'm just choosing not to talk about it from that angle in this post.

Which automatically gets me forgiven by my fellow Progressive Christians and simultaneously in trouble right from Jump Street with most who have identified themselves to me as Evangelicals.

It's the first of many ironies and paradoxes, in my view, of my experience of Evangelicals.

Can you hear me being Very Careful here not to 'generalize'? Good. 'Cuz I'm trying really hard not to piss any of you off. Which, of course, I will just by daring to talk about this subject and not being a bone fide Evangelical myself - even though I was asked. Sigh!

I'll also piss you off because I choose to talk about my personal experience of Evangelicals. Why? Because I refuse to get into a 'Quote-Unquote Pissing Contest'.

Hear me clearly: I'm not going to get into a "John Stott" vs. "John Shelby Spong" or "John Macquarrie" quote contest or who can quote your most popular theologian.

No "Dueling Theologians" here.

In my experience, the only thing Evangelicals love more than quoting Stott or N.T. Wright or R.C. Sproul is quoting Aristole, Augustine or long passages from "Lord of the Rings." (What's up with THAT, anyway?)

Here's the thing about that. I don't mean to be disrespectful but, well: YAWN!

To be perfectly honest, I'd much rather hear about your own story of conversion and how you live your life than to watch you perform scriptural or theological gymnastics or regurgitate what you've been taught or memorized.

Why? Well, because it begins to feel just a tad narcissistic after a while you know? Like what you really, really, really want me to know is just how much you know about the faith you profess, and what others have said about the faith you profess, rather than share the stories of your life of faith.

An "experience" of a living God is very, very important to me. It's that whole Jeremiah "fire in the bones", Paul of Tarsus being knocked off his high horse thing that is part of the 'witness' and 'testimony' part of being Evangelical that I love.

In fact, one of the jokes my Evangelical friends tell on themselves is this:
"If someone tells you that you are “on fire,” and your first thought is not to stop, drop, and roll...you might be an evangelical."
What's most annoying to me is that there seem to be certain "talking points" of the Evangelical faith which are memorized and repeated by rote and with a great sense of confidence and authority. I gotta tell ya, after a while, I become more and more convinced that the only person you are trying to convince is yourself.

So, for sake of discussion (I don't want to argue), let's start here: It seems to me that everyone has four "core doctrine" that are foundational to their faith. That does not mean that there aren't other doctrine that are essential. I'm talking about foundational - what everything else is built on and rests upon.

For me, as a Progressive Christian, they are Creation, Incarnation, Reconciliation and Grace.

For the Evangelical, what I see and hear leads me to believe they are, essentially: The Fall, Incarnation, Resurrection and Inerrancy of Scripture.

Part of the reason Progressives and Evangelical Christians talk past each other all the time is that we start from two very different perspectives and build on two very different foundations. Meanwhile, our assumptions are that we mean the same thing when we identify ourselves as "Christian". We don't.

I don't mind that you have a different perspective with very different foundational beliefs, but it seems to bother you a great deal. You always seem eager to argue with me and anxious to convert me.

I don't want to convert you. I just want you to leave me alone in my beliefs while I'll leave you alone to believe and worship God in the way that is most meaningful to you. See?

But, it gets a little more complicated than that. It seems to me that there are two basic types of Evangelicals, with nuanced members in each "camp".

There are Evangelicals who consider themselves "Born Again." What's really important to these Christians are two questions:
Have you confessed your sin?
Have you made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus?
Everything else is just detail.

It seems to me that it gets a little more detailed for the more "main stream" Evangelical who wants to know whether or not you believe
The Bible is the inerrant Word of God (emphasis on inerrant)
God is omnipotent (All. Power. Full.)
God is absolute perfection
God is active in the world today
Satan is a real spiritual being and is also active in the world today
Jesus is perfect, without blemish, incapable of sin
You will get to heaven only if you are justified by works, not just faith
All Christians have a responsibility to bring others to the Christian faith and life
"The Fall" in the Garden defines the human condition and human enterprise
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary (AKA: virgin birth, which is Very Important if you believe that Jesus is perfect, without blemish and incapable of sin.)
Jesus died for our sins (Atonement for The Fall)
Jesus was fully resurrected, in the body
I think that pretty much sums up my experience of what I'm going to call 'The Evangelical Canon' as I have heard it over the years. I'm not claiming 100% inerrancy in my reporting of it and I am certainly willing to stand corrected.

This is just my perspective. Remember: you asked. Well, a few of you did.

If I sound like I'm bending over backwards not to misrepresent or distance or insult anyone who is Evangelical, it's because I am. I cherish my friendships with my Evangelical friends and we have worked very hard, over the years, to find a place where we can continue to be friends despite our serious theological and political differences.

Here, I think, are the main points of our disagreement - not all, by any means, but the main ones. Okay, just the three main ones. Otherwise, this could become a book. A tome, actually.

I'll try to be brief.

1. The Fall. My Evangelical friends are all over this. Big time. I'm not. It's not a "real" story for me. It's a myth - a way ancient people tried to understand how their world works and why people are the way they are. It's not a bad beginning. It's just not reflective of how I see the world working and why people are the way they are today.

It is, nevertheless, an important story - indeed, a sacred story - because it marks an important point in our communal spiritual history and development.

It's not that I don't see that humans are flawed and faulted. We are. I just don't think we are "wretched" and "sin-sick". I have a higher doctrine of humanity than most of my Evangelical friends. I believe when God said, "It is good," God meant it about ALL of creation - including humankind. And, I believe in Jesus who shows us The Way to our redemption and salvation. More on this later.

2. The Atonement. Again, this is Very Big for my Evangelical friends. I wish I had a nickel for the number of times I heard "Jesus died for your sins." The Atonement makes absolute sense if you buy the story of the Fall. Otherwise, it's a real intellectual problem. Which it is, obviously, for me.

That doesn't mean that I don't believe that there was a man named Jesus who was fully human and fully divine who died a brutal and senseless and shameful death on the cross. I'm just not convinced that the God I know and love and worship and adore would require that kind of cruelty and brutality from "his only begotten son" - or anyone else, for that matter.

That feels an awful lot like human projection to me - not the qualities of the loving God of abundance who blessed me with life.

Besides, what really doesn't make sense to me is that, "if Jesus died for our sins, once and for all" then why do Evangelicals continue to harp on the wretchedness of the human condition? If we're saved, we're saved. If we've been redeemed, we've been redeemed.

Rejoice a little, wouldja? It's positively miraculous what we can accomplish for God and God's world when we work from an impulse of gratitude rather than guilt.

I know all about 'temptation' and 'sin' and 'the Devil'. But, Jesus is alive and is risen. There is a balance in the world. It's gonna be okay. We're all going to go to heaven.

Oops. I crossed the line again, didn't I? Okay. Disregard that last remark (Not to worry. A good Evangelical already has).

Let me try it this way: Jesus is the Light of the World so it's okay to lighten up. You know?
3. The catholicity of the Evangelical doctrine. I know. Sounds like an oxymoron. Especially when I've already admitted there there is, in my experience, no monochrome Evangelical.

What I mean by this is that the most annoying part of having Evangelical friends is that they tend to speak with the kind of authority I knew in the RC church of my youth. We laughingly called this "truth by blatant assertion." What is true for them is Truth. Capital "T". Period, end of sentence.

Not only that, the Evangelicals I know an love tend not to question. Indeed, they don't even like questions, preferring answers, thank you very much - especially ones that have been provided for them by Very Important Theologians.

One of my Evangelical colleagues frequently reminds me that he is "praying for God to give me a word of truth" about my faith so I can be a "true believer" because he "just knows" that I have "the possibility".

Arrogance or conviction? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

Here's the thing about having a Very Low Doctrine of Humanity: it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some of the most mean-spirited, decidedly un-Christian comments I've ever heard or actions I've witnessed have come from people who profess to follow Jesus.

Say what you like about Progressive Christians - we're certainly far from perfect - but we tend to err on the side of inclusion and forgiveness - sometimes, to a fault.  We can be fools that way. And, sometimes, it would be hard not to be found guilty by a jury of our peers. 

Look, I'm quite sure that there are things about Progressive Christians that drive Evangelicals right round the bend. I'd love it if an Evangelical did a similar thing I've done here  - tried  to summarize the "Progressive Canon" as you understand it.

I'd love it even more if you let me know if I've fairly represented the "Evangelical Canon". If I haven't, I trust you'll correct me.

I'd also love it if you said, straight away, what drives you right 'round the bend about Progressive Christians.  I think it would be highly illuminating to see myself from your perspective.  I hope it has been helpful for Evangelicals who read this.

Tell me how you live what you believe and I'll tell you how I live what I believe.

I think conversations at this level will do more to move us along in our understanding of each other than a recitation of doctrine. 

Don't you? I'm sure you'll let me know.

And, if you aren't sure whether or not you are an Evangelical, here are a few more "You Might Be an Evangelical" jokes:

If you believe that hell is going to be populated by Catholics (except for Mel Gibson), the Clintons, Mormons (with a special dispensation for Glen Beck), the staff of New York Times (all of them), Rosie Odonnell, all of the people from the East coast and West coast (with a special hot spot for Hollywood), Brian McLaren, and all Liberals, you might be an Evangelical.

If you think homoousios is the emphatic bill for same-sex marriage, you might be an Evangelical.

If your three cardinal sins are fornication, homosexuality, and voting Democrat, you might be an Evangelical.

If you see a Gold’s Gym t-shirt and then think that a “God’s Gym” t-shirt would be really cool…you might be an evangelical.
  Gods_gym_small_1Golds_gym
If your personal library contains the Left Behind series, the Prayer of Jabez, the Purpose-Driven Life and Your Best Life Now….you might be an evangelical. 

If you think the best place to buy quality artwork for your living room is a Christian “bookstore”…you might be an evangelical.

If someone says “guitar,” and you automatically think “worship”… you might be an evangelical.

If you say the word “just” more frequently than the word “Jesus” when you pray…you might be an evangelical. 
Okay, now, I've got to go off and consider writing "You Might Be a Progressive". . . . just for fun. Because, if life isn't occasionally fun, I think we've missed the whole point of God's creation.

26 comments:

St. Thomas Episcopal Church said...

Elizabeth - great post. Thank you for summarizing both perspectives as you have I agree with you pretty whole-heartedly about your 4 progressive canons, although I might like to include or substitute Resurrection on the progressive list. But see, that's what makes us progressive!

Bob

John Sandeman / Obadiah Slope said...

"Look, I'm quite sure that there are things about Progressive Christians that drive Evangelicals right round the bed."

Err, no... Because we don't think about sex all the time.

On the other hand it's true. There are things about Progressive Christians that drive Evangelicals right round the bend.

I would say "I'h happy to put my hands up to that" except you might think I'm talking about church.

David said...

If you say the word “just” more frequently than the word “Jesus” when you pray…you might be an evangelical.

Noooo! make it stop!

I absolutely despise this habit of speech. It's one of the few things that really makes me want to get my "Grammar Nazi" on ;)

keith nethery said...

I've been meaning to make an attempt at something like this for a long time. Well put, full of grace, and with a nice challenge. Now that you have written this, I can refer others rather than try to shape my own appropriate words Oh sure, we could find something to "discuss" in all this, but the theme of what you was written is brilliant. I also have many friends who would fall into your evangelical definition (I'd put them there, they might not agree) so I am very interested to see what kind of responses you get

Wade said...

LOL!

If someone says “guitar,” and you automatically think “worship”… you might be an evangelical.

I am safe then. It's Albert Melton, J. S. Bach and the Skinner organ that make it worship!

Lisa Fox said...

A fun read, Elizabeth. And a brave venture. It will be interesting to see how Evangelicals respond. From a perspective more like yours, I'd quibble with this:

For me, as a Progressive Christian, they are Creation, Incarnation, Reconciliation and Grace.

For the Evangelical, what I see and hear leads me to believe they are, essentially: The Fall, Incarnation, Resurrection and Inerrancy of Scripture.


I don't see Evangelicals all that excited about the resurrection. It seems to the be crucifixion that really turns them on ... with that whole substitutionary atonement thing.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yeah, I thought about Resurrection, Bob, but I thought "Grace" covered.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, John/Obadiah. Loved your typo, too. Felt like Poetic Justice.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Lisa - Yeah, crucifixion vs. resurrection was a tough call but I thought "The Fall" covered my experience of the Evangelical obsession with "Sin" and "Crucifixion". I might have lost something in the attempt at economy.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, so anybody gave for a "You might know you are a Progressive Christian if . . ."???

John Sandeman / Obadiah Slope said...

Elizabeth: I am well ahead of you in the typo wars! I once misspelled "Jesus" on a campus evangelical union poster.
Lisa: I wonder if Evangelicals (mostly) view the resurrection as a foretaste of heaven whereas progressives see resurrection in terms of life lived now and social action.
I think I would want to be both/and about that one. And the rest of the lists as well.

Lisa Fox said...

John, I can't speak for evangelicals (of course!), but -- yes -- I see the resurrection in terms of Christ's presence with us here and now ... as well as what you call "life lived now and social action."

MarkBrunson said...

If you say the word “just” more frequently than the word “Jesus” when you pray…you might be an evangelical.

Ah! The Lorjus Prayer!

"Lor' jus' look down on all us and Lor' jus' hep us to be what You want, and Lor' jus' straingthen your people . . . " blah-blah-blahblahblah.

I quote Lord of the Rings a good deal. Most "evos" I know go on about that painfully uninteresting C. S. Lewis.

Ali said...

as someone with a foot in both "evangelical" and "progressive" camps - I hate the labels! they dont fit either the people i know or myself. the church i long for is one where these labels no longer have meaning, and we can just all get on serving God the best way we can.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I do too, Ali, but it's what we've got, isn't it? The easy part is just to crumble up the paper and act as if the definitions and distinctions don't exist. The question is, how do we work with what we've got?

Hiram said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, for giving us your idea of what an evangelical Christian believes. From the point of view of this Anglican Evangelical, you are reasonably accurate, with one glaring exception. I will take each idea from your list in turn, tell you what I think about it, and, if appropriate, cite (but not quote) the appropriate Article(s) from the XXXIX Articles that supports this conviction.

I have an idea that what you think that Evangelicals believe is somewhat distorted because the Evangelical Christians you know may emphasize a particular conviction because they think, or know, that you do not share it and are “leaning” on it a bit more than they ordinarily would. At any rate, here is my take on your list:

The Bible is the inerrant Word of God (emphasis on inerrant)
Actually, the emphasis is on “Word of God.” Evangelicals believe that God inspired the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit, and that because of this inspiration, Scripture is God’s Word to humanity, to tell them about himself, what it means to be human, and how they can know, love, and serve him. Scripture does not tell us everything we want to know, nor is it all equally clear (in fact, some parts are incredibly puzzling), but it is all God’s Word and we need to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it for our direction and encouragement. Because Scripture comes from a perfect and loving God, it is trustworthy and reliable.
Articles VI and VII deal directly with Scripture, and Article XX shows us that the English Reformers believed the Bible to be all of a piece and was to be interpreted as presenting a coherent, cohesive message.

God is omnipotent (All. Power. Full.)
Actually, the most important things to an Evangelical (or at least to me and to the Evangelical Christians I have studied and worked with over my forty or so years of adult life) is that God is holy and loving. He is of course powerful, and he can do all his holy will – but God cannot violate his character, nor do nonsense, like making a rock so heavy he cannot lift it.

God is absolute perfection
As a child of 8, I learned that “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” While few youngsters are now as blessed as I was to learn the Westminster Children’s Catechism, this description of God is what undergirds Evangelical teaching about God in much of the Evangelical world.
Article I

God is active in the world today
Of course! And Article I again.

Satan is a real spiritual being and is also active in the world today
Scripture portrays Satan as a personal (ie, having a character, a will, and power to act) spiritual being who is opposed to God, and portrays him as active in this world.

Jesus is perfect, without blemish, incapable of sin
The first two are correct: Jesus was a human being as human beings were meant to be. But he was capable of sin, and was tempted to sin throughout his life. We read of his temptations at the beginning of his ministry, at his disciples’ recognition of his Messiahship, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, and there were doubtless many more occasions. But as Hebrews notes, “he was tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He did not sin, but he was capable of sinning. Indeed, his ministry as Savior depended on being capable of sin, for he was our representative, a “second Adam,” who withstood temptation and fully followed God’s will.
Articles XV.

(I have to break my comment into two pieces - it is long!)

Hiram said...

Part II

You will get to heaven only if you are justified by works, not just faith
Of all the statements in this list, this one left me absolutely slack-jawed in amazement. This is not at all an evangelical belief. While there are certainly people who attend evangelical churches who believe this statement, no evangelical with knowledge of biblical teachings would say this. It is one of the foundational teachings of evangelical Christianity that we are reconciled to God and brought into relationship with him by grace alone. This teaching of salvation by grace alone is one of the “Four Spiritual Laws” developed by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and used by thousands of CCC staff members and students in evangelism. Other evangelical ministries have made a brief synopsis of the Gospel for use in helping people understand the message of salvation, and they are all emphasize that there is nothing we can contribute to our own salvation. The five “Solas” of the Reformation is that a right relationship with God is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as testified by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.
Indeed, the heart of the Euangelion, the “Good News,” is that God freely and fully forgives by his grace in Jesus Christ, and we not (and indeed cannot) contribute anything whatsoever to the work of Christ so freely and graciously made for us. All we can do is accept it and rely upon it.
I have an idea that the Evangelicals who left you with this impression were seeking to affirm that Evangelicals do not preach an “easy believism,” where all one needs to is say “the sinner’s prayer” or “come forward” at a revival meeting and then can regard oneself as “saved.”
We are saved by grace alone through faith alone – but the faith and grace that save are never alone. Grace turns our hearts away from our self-seeking and towards God, so that we both rely upon Christ and begin to delight ever more fully in pleasing God.
Articles XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XVI, XVII, and XVIII.

All Christians have a responsibility to bring others to the Christian faith and life.
It’s called the Great Commission, given in Matt 28 and Acts 1. It is also implied in Article XVIII.

Hiram said...

Part III

"The Fall" in the Garden defines the human condition and human enterprise
I have been thinking about this since our last exchange a week or so ago. Evangelicals may emphasize the reality of personal sinfulness because most people want to think of themselves as “good people.” Since many people, if they think of God at all, think that they will be acceptable to God on the basis of what they do, they cannot admit their sins to themselves, for to do so is to recognize that they are doomed. So they figure that God “grades on the curve,” and that as long as they are not really, really awful, they will be acceptable. So we Evangelicals will spend time talking about the reality and the depth of sin.
A fuller picture of Evangelical teaching, however, is that all human beings are of infinite value to God. We were created in God’s image and we still bear that image.
We are of infinite worth as individuals – but morally, we are worthless. We are like the son who could not wait for his father to die, but demanded his birthright, took it for himself, and wasted it selfishly and stupidly. Human beings, until they recognize the wretchedness of their condition before a just and holy God, are wandering in a far country, feeding swine and starving to death (or eating pig food). The only way home is to recognize one’s condition and then set off for home and acknowledge how grievously one has failed.
Article IX, and also the section “Human Nature,” in the BCP on page 845.

Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary (AKA: virgin birth, which is Very Important if you believe that Jesus is perfect, without blemish and incapable of sin.)
This idea is better phrased as the “virginal conception.” Mary gave Jesus full humanity; conception apart from normal human means broke the chain of the corruption of original sin. (Much more could be said…)
Article II.

Jesus died for our sins (Atonement for The Fall)
This topic is huge and I will not go into it any further than to say that the Epistles are full of the teaching that Jesus died for our sins. Furthermore, Jesus said in Mark 10:45 that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many,” and in Matthew 26:28, he speaks of the wine representing “my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” And of course, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” If you want to ignore Jesus’ teachings on his death in order to say that it was not an atoning sacrifice, you are free to do so, but it is hard to accept anything else you would say about Jesus’ teaching if you write that part off.
Articles II and III deal with this, as does Eucharistic Prayer I and the section of the Catechism found on pages 849 & 850.

Jesus was fully resurrected, in the body
If there was no body, there was no resurrection. The disciples were not fools, and they believed in ghosts, so mere spiritual continuation would not have been news to them, let alone good news.
Article IV is very clear on the physicality of the resurrection.

Hiram said...

Part IV (Sorry...)

One more quote from the article:
EK: “Besides, what really doesn't make sense to me is that, "if Jesus died for our sins, once and for all" then why do Evangelicals continue to harp on the wretchedness of the human condition? If we're saved, we're saved. If we've been redeemed, we've been redeemed.

“Rejoice a little, wouldja? It's positively miraculous what we can accomplish for God and God's world when we work from an impulse of gratitude rather than guilt.

I know all about 'temptation' and 'sin' and 'the Devil'. But, Jesus is alive and is risen. There is a balance in the world. It's gonna be okay. We're all going to go to heaven.”

In many ways, there is much that could be said here, but I will say that one of the earliest things I learned was something my wife’s pastor said later: “Guilt, grace, gratitude.” I do not meet many guilt-driven Evangelicals, although I know they exist. Most of the Evangelicals I have spent time with are the most joyful people I know. Recognition of one’s sinful estate apart from Christ does not mean that one is driven by guilt. For myself, it simply means thankfulness that I have been redeemed and rescued, taken “from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13

I know that progressive Christians say, “We’re all going to go to heaven.” I keep wondering two things – first, upon what basis do you make that statement? How can you be sure? Second, what is so good about heaven in your minds?

While I have not quoted R. C. Sproul by the yard, as you might have feared, I have written a lot. I hope to give a word of personal testimony soon, and to give you my impression of core beliefs for progressive Christians. As I close, I give two web addresses, both from the National Association of Evangelicals – a statement of faith, and a definition:
http://www.nae.net/about-us/statement-of-faith

http://www.nae.net/church-and-faith-partners/what-is-an-evangelical

Ali said...

i think a huge part of it starts with us living as we want the world to be, and creating the space for others to enter that if they wish & as they are able. So if we want equality - we live equality; if we proclaim freedom we must live that freedom and offer it - make it as real as possible in the lives of those around us. we don't have to live merely with what we have, i think we are called live the beginnings of the dream. thats not easy, it may be regarded by some as niaive,but I dont recall jesus ever calling us to the easy ride

Ali said...

its not a matter of "acting as if the definitions dont exist", but living beyond the definitions in the grace of God...

MarkBrunson said...

And humorless and oversensitive.

What hothouse flowers, indeed.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

"I hope to give a word of personal testimony soon..."

Can't wait, Hiram my son - but how about you wait until someone asks for them first, ok? They're bound to eventually...

Hiram said...

Mr Troll:
"To be perfectly honest, I'd much rather hear about your own story of conversion and how you live your life than to watch you perform scriptural or theological gymnastics or regurgitate what you've been taught or memorized."
From the blog post itself...

Georges said...

You say: «I'm just not convinced that the God I know and love and worship and adore would require that kind of cruelty and brutality from "his only begotten son" - or anyone else, for that matter.»

But then:

Do you think that the God of love and mery would have tortured by axphyxiation and stock-burning some living pain-feeling fish?

Do you think that the God of life would have kill «ham or lamb»?

Do you think that Jesus, who feld deep violence on the cross, would have perpetrate violence upon the fish?

Do you think that the inauguration of the new era by his resurrection is compatible with burning fish on the stock or killing them by asphyxiation?

If God didn't «require that kind of cruelty and brutality» from Jesus, why would we from lambs and fishes (etc etc)?

I think there is a contradiction. At least the so-called evangelicals are coherent: God required a brutal violent death from Jesus, so they feel authorized to perpetrate violence, as God likes violence too. Or there could be another version, a both traditionalist and progressive one: God required the death only from his only-begotten Son, that violence might be stopped there. This is sacrifice.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sorry, George, I'm not buying your logic. I'm not saying that it doesn't have its own logic. I'm just saying I'm not buying it.