I am not generally a fearful person. I have seen a good bit of violence and believe myself capable of handling most things and have no issue trusting God with the things I can not. (Note: none of this applies to large bodies of water which I have a completely irrational fear of. ) I am no stranger to fights of the violent or verbal kind, I simply prefer to avoid them. I try, to the best of my limited ability, to avoid unhealthy and argumentative conflict as I find it generally rather distasteful. Conflict of ideas is a good thing in general (iron does sharpen iron and all that) but just fighting to fight doesn’t help anything. There is however a time for everything under heaven and that means a time for fighting as well. The Byrds may have been right when they sang “A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late!” but it does not hold true now. There is no longer a time for peace. Not anymore. Not with the progressives in the UMC.
(See this post by Joel on his views on the 8 points)
My concerns with the progressives in the UMC have been documented in previous blogs and have outlined some of the concerns I have with the groups that represent their goals to some degree. I have taken issue with things that the IRD has said and done and been more than willing to assign blame equally to the “right wing” as to the “left wing”. I was wrong. There is hope for the UMC, but that hope can only be realized with out the militant progressive system of belief that has infected, perverted, distorted and twisted the teachings of scripture to such a point that it can not be called Christianity any longer. Dress it up all you want, say all the nice things you want, pick all the pretty language you want, but progressive “Christianity” is little more than an excuse to question everything without having to believe and stand for anything…unless ‘anything’ counts as hating and insulting anyone who actually believes in something contrary to the non belief that they have, then that counts as something…lost in doublespeak yet? Good because they want you to be. There is no belief except the belief that if you are not “one of them” then you are the enemy and subject to ridicule, insult and all manner of slander and/or libel (not in the legal sense, in the definitions of the words) that can be leveled against you.
I have spent some time trying to understand the idea of progressive non belief in the attempt to find some common ground theologically. There is none. I have attempted to engage progressives in public forums via social media, private chats via social media and in person to find some common ground in how we think and believe we should go about doing things. There is none. We do not have a common theological understanding of scripture. We do not have common ground in the way things should be done. Progressives value orthopraxy but ignore and try to be rid of the orthodoxy that leads to it. You can not have right action without right belief. Progressives often describe Christianity as something that you do, not something that you believe. Scientologists do as well. I dare say that any faith that shares similarities with Scientology in it’s core tenet is not only dangerous, but decidedly not Christian. I am sorry that you do not like orthodoxy, but Christianity is an orthodox faith. You don’t have to like it or even follow it, but you can not properly claim it if you are not. Your faith may properly be described as ‘progressive’ but should not be properly described as ‘Christian’ in any sense of the history of the definition. You have succeeded in reviving all of the fun heresies of pre-Nicene Christianity and I must say that I pray often for the next Irenaeus to write and rail against them.
There is little doubt that this will be misconstrued to be some sort of statement about a specific issue etc, but it really isn’t. This is not about one issue, misunderstanding, or social ill. This is not about LGTBQ inclusion, racial tensions, etc. This is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and how you dishonor and disgrace the three in one by your faulty understanding of them. Yes, I do believe that you can stand for LGBTQ inclusion and be a Christian, but no, you can not deny and dispose of everything that has defined Christians since the time of Christ and be one. You can call yourself as you will, but do not ask me to. Incidentally, yes, I realize that this is a judgement and I will be judged by the same standard. I am ok with being judged by grace through faith, a belief in the creeds and the church that Christ came to build. That is the standard and it always has been.
You have lost me. It seems like a small thing really and in the short term it probably is, but in the long term it is a sad and dangerous development for you. If you have lost me, you have also lost the church. The church believes in the standard that orthodoxy has set. You do not. You have scared me. Not because of what it is that you believe, but because you have crafted a system of questioning that requires no belief. You have taken the beautiful statement “when Christ calls a man he bids him come and die” (thank you Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and turned it into “when whatever you want to believe in calls you, that great something out there bids you to ask some questions but never believe”. You have disgraced and dishonored the martyrs throughout history that have died for the Truth and for the faith. You have perverted the beauty and love that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and turned it into a vulgar display of violence more sensationalized that Mel Gibson could have dreamed.
You question everything and hold nothing as a core belief and in that have no identity that is immutable. This is contrary to everything the church and scripture teaches. We in the church know (or should know) who we are.We know we are royal priests, we know we are living stones and we know we are co-inheritors of the kingdom. We know we are brothers and sisters in and with Christ, we know we are mystically grafted onto the line. We know we are purified, justified and crucified with and in Christ. We know we broken and flawed and will one day be made perfect. We know we cry now but one day will not, we know that there will come a day when there is not suffering, pain, hunger and war and we know that we should work for it now so that Christ can complete it when He returns. We know we are tested and tried, we know we can resist temptation, we know that we are being refined by the fire and will come out the other end more beautiful than any of us could imagine. We know we are one body, one faith under one Lord displayed in one baptism. We know we are the sons and daughters of a loving God. We know we are the church. I can not say that about you, and that frightens and saddens me. I have tried, and I am sorry, but I simply can not risk dishonoring God any longer by calling progressive “Christians” the church.