Phony Theologies and Terminologies


Today, I was kicked out of a Christian ministry.

I was asked about my views on homosexuality and the bible.

So I told them.

And they were not happy.

I have been part of this collective ministry for nearly half of a year; it is a valuable ministry in our community. The elements that bind this ministry together include a focus on five things (bible, prayer, God, Jesus, Spirit). Of the many different faith communities that come together to serve, we have all agreed that we would focus on the five main ideas and not get caught up in other areas where we may disagree. But apparently, it is not permissible to believe that some of the words in the bible (i.e. “God is Love” or “For God so Loved the world…”) apply to all people because of other words in the bible. I have learned that, for this organization, it is more important to acknowledge the “Truth” of the bible as opposed to the meaning of the gospel.

To me, this whole sad experience has been representative of a broader “conversation” going on in our world.

Throughout our political campaign season (which is the best metaphor I can think of to describe “eternity”), we have heard about “phony theologies” that “aren’t based on the bible.” We have heard about the policies that each politician has voted on and how close that lines up with “biblical principles.” And when we’re not referring to the bible as one monolithic voice shouting policy prescriptions for our modern time, we succumb to the tired and easy terminologies of “liberal” and “conservative” Christians – as if all “liberal Christians” were those who took a more metaphorical approach to scripture and all “conservative Christians” took a more literalist approach to scripture (unless this terminology is suggesting that all “liberal Christians” are vegans and all “conservative Christians” have concealed permits).

The way that we’ve come to be referred to and/or the way that we have often chosen to identify ourselves is not “Christo-centric” but “biblio-centric.”

So the questions that are asked are not the meaningful questions like:

How has God’s Love transformed you?

Will you commit to Loving God and Loving neighbor with all of your heart, soul, and mind?

But instead we hear questions like, “What are your thoughts on homosexuality?” and “Do you think the bible is true?”

We are in need of new ways to speak about ourselves – new terms that get to the heart of the matter, as it were. So today, I am proposing that we drop all of these biblo-centric terms and adopt some constructive vocabulary that reveals what we in the Church are all about. It’s time that we stop referring to ourselves in terms such as “liberal”, “conservative”, or even “bible-believing” and start identifying ourselves by how much and who we Love (or at least Strive to Love).

We could have “universal Christians” that Loved everyone.

We could have “universal Christians minus enemies” that were almost there.

And we could allow folks who weren’t comfortable with the whole GLBT thing to identify themselves as “straight Christians.”

Just think of how helpful this could be! Not only could it help avoid awkward conversations like the one I had today, but it would remind everyone (ourselves included) what our faith is all about.

Because, I don’t recall Jesus picking up a canonized bible from the future and calling all of his disciples to pick up their cross and swear allegiance to it. I don’t recall Jesus welcoming in everyone except “those people.” I remember a Christ that said, “Love (even) your enemies”, that proclaimed liberation to the enslaved, and brought Good News to the poor.

The first thing we often say about Christ is how much he Loved; perhaps that’s how we should be known as well.

Perhaps.

But, then again, what do I know?

I was kicked out of a Christian ministry today.

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14 thoughts on “Phony Theologies and Terminologies

  1. Been there … done that. A few years ago I had a call to start a new progressive UCC church withdrawn because the calling-church decided that I was “too progressive for West Virginia”. The kicker? The GLBTQ calling-church is pastored by an ex-Nazareen, excommunicated from that group when he “came out”, who still teaches the Bible as literal – except, of course, for “those passages”, which suddenly become metaphorical. My non-literal approach to the Bible – plus the fact that I am a married straight male – was just too much for them to support. It was the most baffling situation one can imagine.

    Now I’m selling cars … tired of fighting the church crap.

    • A board authority.
      I’ve been weighing the worth of the creative resistance to the channeling of a calling to offer something new in its place. I will consider your encouragement.
      Thank you.
      Peace.

    • Fred,
      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t need any adjective to enhance our understanding of what it meant to be a Christian? This was merely a bit of creative release to suggest we consider what means the most. Perhaps your suggestion would simply be that we are known more by what we do than what we say or what we believe. I’m right on with that.
      Peace.

  2. My son got kicked out of a “Christian” ministry for defending a young man who chose to dress “Goth.” I was so proud.

  3. Lol!!! I’ve been ‘kicked out’ too before… Such weird dimension of space and time, isn’t it? Really like the whole… “known by how much you loved” proposition. Getting down to brass-tax.Peace to you and your day.

    • Hello Hope,
      How did you feel when you were asked to leave?
      In the hours following this, I felt very offended – some for myself and much more for all of the folks who would be excluded by this “principle.” How are you finding support/community for ministry at this time?
      Peace be with you as well.
      Chris

  4. Congratulations, Pastor, you just got a promotion! Sounds like you’re doing God’s work to me! Didn’t Jesus say something about ‘blessed are you when men revile and persecute you in my name’? Kicking you out of their elite club is probably included in that idea. But then I’m one of those small “c” Christians like above who calls myself “3/4 Hindu” most of the time in order not to be aligned with Christians of that stripe. Peace be with you!

    • Promotion? That’s a nice way of looking at it!
      In all seriousness though, exclusion is a painful experience. I’ll try and remember the words of Christ that you’ve offered to me; and thank you for sharing!
      Peace.

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