Now, more than ever, I am thankful that I am mainline

The responses by Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee have once again reminded me the great gulf fixed between fundamentalism and mainline Christians. Do not mistake my words here as a rant against conservative Christians. I am a conservative Christian, but I am neither fundamentalist nor evangelical (at least in the American sense of the word). I am mainline. I am a United Methodist. I, instead, speak about the fundamentalists, those like Fischer and Huckabee — those like Westboro Baptist Church. Let me state clearly here as well something. There is little difference between the normative fundamentalist and Fred Phelps. Phelps just as the courage to say in public what so many pastors yesterday said in the comfort of their pulpits. 1

What was the first response you had to the tragedy? Was it to demonize the gays? Democrats? To call for the end times? Was it fear? Did you promulgate a false notion of history, as if violence suddenly increased in this country due to a Supreme Court ruling? Did you suggest it was because the rampant sin in society as if this sin is something germane to our social situation? Or did you begin to pray for the families of the victims, even for the shooters? Did you wonder what you could do to host a vigil, to send a prayer, to tweet something to the family, to hug your children?

If your first response was to assume the children in some way deserved it, that we as Americans deserve it, then you are nothing more than a follower of Fred Phelps.

If your first response, after the anger subsided just a bit, was to begin to call for prayers of comfort, you may be a follower of Jesus who refused to condemn the Gentiles who perished in the tower at Sidon.

Compare well the responses from the Westboro ilk and the mainline Christians:

The Roman Catholic Church issued a statement from Cardinal Dolan:

Once again we speak against the culture of violence infecting our country even as we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace at Christmas. All of us are called to work for peace in our homes, our streets and our world, now more than ever.

The ECLA issued prayers of intercession:

For communities and schools affected by violence, especially Sandy Hook Elementary School. As they remember and as they grieve, hear their cries and wipe away their tears. Assure them of your promised peace in the midst of suffering.

The United Methodist Church in their respective districts issued words of care, while on Facebook issuing a prayer for all.

“Friends, in the midst of this tragedy draw closer to your loved ones, especially the children,” his letter said. “Reassure them of God’s love and your love. While we cannot undo this carnage, we can respond with the message of hope and healing that our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ offers to us all. Through the tears of a nation, remember the promise of the Psalmist: ‘Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Ps. 30:5).”

Recently, Dan Savage issued a plea for the Christian Left to get louder:

Here’s the thing – we who you would call liberal are too busy working – too busy praying – too busy doing God’s work for us that we do not have time to blast anyone. For example, these mainline churches in Newtown are already working to help the families in crisis. The UMC and other national groups are already working to provide backup to the churches in Newtown while still working in respond to Sandy, while still working in response to AIDs, immigration, labor, equality… while we are still working around the world. The reason you only hear from the right wing is because they aren’t work — they are too busy coming up with excuses and playing the blame game to work, to do real, meaningful work.

  1. Yes, even the folks at Answers in Genesis got involved – to sell their version of events
Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

7 thoughts on “Now, more than ever, I am thankful that I am mainline

  1. Yeah … I’m sure that God massacred kids (presumably the product of heterosexual relationships and not aborted) to punish these parents for gay marriage and abortion.

    Do you know the song “Come Lord Jesus” by Andrew Peterson? It’s one of few that takes a serious jab at “the prophets with the picket signs screaming ‘God Hates Fags’.”

    “And if feels like the Church isn’t anything more
    Than the second coming of the Pharisees
    Scrubbing each other ’til our tombs are white,
    We chisel epitaphs of piety.”

    Looking at the state of Evangelicalism, I think that more and more people need to listen to it and take it to heart.

    I can’t stop crying about the dead children, and the public face that the Church has put on in response. Whoever you are (except a gun lobbyist or someone cutting health care), the Bride of Christ is ready and eager to kick you while you’re down and point an accusing finger at you.

      1. Oh boy. Why are YOU so divisive? So you’re actually saying that 1 Cor 3:4 does NOT reflect the divisions of 1:10-17? Please, tell me what these passages could possibly refer to?

        1. Wait… so if I don’t agree with you, I am divisive?

          God complex much?

          I didn’t say anything about divisions – I said that the verse does not apply to mainline v. bat-mess crazy fundimentalism. 1 Co 3.1-4 speaks about following someone other than Christ. Not about saying I am not like another. Otherwise, Paul and his Epistle to the Galatians presents a problem to you.

          1. No – that’s not really the case at all. But, this is about context and study, something you have the remarkable ability to deny

Leave a Reply, Please!