Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being Different in the PC(USA)

As a Confessing Church pastor (for those who don't know PCUSA politics, that's code for "evangelical"), I have watched and participated in the debates through the last 20 years that will determine the shape of the part of the Body of Christ that I was born into when Christ came into my life as a 14-year-old in Washington, D.C.

I am watching and listening now as the next installment of this crusade plays across the presbyteries, and I have come to a conclusion. Not only is this no way to be the Church, this is no way to stand for Christ against those who no longer seem (to me) to be brothers and sisters in the same family.

The coldness of progressive "Christianity" has always been a problem for me. All head, little heart, lots of pride masked by good deeds and good intentions. It would all be hard to take, if the same could not be said for the conservative "Christianity" that takes the opposing viewpoints and plays by the same rules.

It seems to me that both are trying to find some way back-- back to the time when the Mainline was the mainline and not a silly sideline in this culture. Progressives believe that if they just leap ahead of the culture, they will be seen as its leaders again. Conservatives believe that if they just hold on rigidly to what was handed on to them, that "being right" will translate into cultural leadership when everyone comes to their senses.

Both are wrong. There is no way back to that time-- thank God. The Church was captive in a culture that bowed to the cross, but did not follow Jesus, even if everyone was in their places with bright shining faces.

A new Church will arise out of the ashes of Christendom-- and it won't be the nightmarish vision of either of the camps that is fighting over Christendom's rotting corpse. The new Church already hears Christ's call to let the dead bury their own dead, as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:60).

The Church's addiction to power must now be broken, because power is out of the Church's reach. We are going through delirium tremens Left and Right these days-- but when the Church finally sobers up, puts away numbers and the luxuries they generate, and gets back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a new Church will arise.
The call now is to be the change we seek to see-- to become a pilgrim Church whose knees are worn by falling on them in prayer and worship, whose hands are calloused by Christ's using them to do His work in the world, whose voice is hoarse from shouting into the din of this culture real Good News.

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