Since it’s the last day of 2012, I have to cover three months in this final post of looking back so I’m going to give myself 12 posts from the past three months instead of just 10. This fall, we experienced two alternatives for responding to an election season: preachers endorsing political candidates from the pulpit or Christians coming together across the political spectrum to celebrate communion. Jerry Sandusky got convicted for his crimes, so I asked what would need to happen for him to enter into God’s kingdom and feast at the heavenly banquet with the boys he molested. I watched with anguish and tried to be fair in what I wrote as Israel and Gaza went to war. And Rachel Held Evans became this year’s Rob Bell after her Year of Biblical Womanhood drew a furious reaction from the evangelical establishment. So here are 12 from October to December. Continue reading
Is God’s goal for humanity communion or correctness? The way you answer that question will determine your understanding of atonement, orthodoxy, holiness, Biblical interpretation, and just about every other major issue within Christian thought. Does Jesus’ cross serves the purpose of imputing perfect correctness to imperfect people or creating peace and reconciliation between otherwise irreconcilable people? That is the distinction. For the purpose of this piece, I want to define correctness very specifically as a way of thinking about behavior and opinions in which there is one right answer and the goal is absolute uniformity. Righteousness is different from correctness; its absolute would be perfect love for God and neighbor which would not necessarily result in identical decisions being made in the same circumstances but a perfect disposition for making these decisions. I believe that a certain threshold of correctness is important for the sake of establishing communion between God’s people, but if correctness means chasing after an elusive goal of absolute ideological conformity, then it is a source of schism in the body of Christ and as such a heretical pursuit.
I sent the famous reformed systematic theologian Wayne Grudem an email in response to his editorial in the Christian Post about why he was supporting Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which I wrote two different pieces about here and here. Didn’t expect to hear back and when I did, I was pretty stung by what he had to say. I realize that some of you are going to criticize me for sharing an email exchange publicly, but I feel that when you impugn the character of someone you don’t know, you lose the right to privacy. And I think that this email exchange epitomizes the difference between two ways of understanding the purpose and identity of evangelical Christianity. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I started getting spam from Jim Garlow, the pastor of the Skyline megachurch in Lemon Grove, California, about the Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative that he has been spearheading with Glenn Beck. This past Sunday, about 1500 pastors across the country heeded Garlow’s call to preach about the presidential campaign in defiance of the IRS prohibition on public political endorsements for 501-C3 tax-deductible organizations. Around the same time that Garlow started spamming me, I accidentally stumbled across a different initiative started by two Mennonite pastors and an Episcopal layperson, who didn’t have nearly the resources of Garlow, called Election Day Communion, which has the modest goal of getting 100 churches in all 50 states to celebrate communion on Election Day in order to remember our unity as Christians in a season that has tried to redefine us according to our partisan affiliations. These two contrasting movements capture two radically different visions for how to be the church in a contentious political season. Continue reading
A beautiful wind is blowing through the body of Christ in our country right now even as American Christianity seems to be split between a side that’s in decline and a side that is intoxicated with its surging political power. Many Christians have grown disgusted with the partisanship and the culture wars that have intensified over the past several decades. And we decided to do something about it. I wanted to share with you a vision that developed at our church for a campaign called “Jesus Is My Candidate” and an even cooler idea that I just discovered called “Election Day Communion.” Continue reading