Category Archives: post-Christian

Hopes and Dreams

During a recent conversation I was asked to share my thoughts about the future of the church. In a moment of personal clarity I suggested the issue was no longer about me or my preferences, rather I wanted a church that my children would attend, invest in, and support. I suspect that this kind of church will be very different from what we have now.

Last week I finished reading Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave. I have a bad habit of skipping the appendix when I read. On this occasion I was on a plane and still had an hour of flight time left, so I continued past the official end of the book to the appendix where Douglass reflected on the expressions of Christianity he witnessed.

On April 28, 1845, Douglass wrote:

What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slave holding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference – so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. (Appendix)

Although these words were written well over 150 years ago, they still ring true today. There are still significant segments of the church that have chosen the Christianity of this land over the Christianity of Christ. It is at this juncture where I find hope. There are many young adults (my children included) who choose not to participate in church because of its close relationship with “this land.”

The church of this land gets to choose who participates and who has access. It gets to choose country first and God second.

The church of Christ must by definition take seriously the words of Christ. More often than not these words will put people of faith in conflict with government, popular culture, and comfortable Christianity. The church of Christ must choose our common humanity over national, cultural, and class divisions. Welcoming the neighbor trumps walls of separation.

In Douglass’s day the church of power went to great lengths to justify slavery. Today there are too many who claim faith and yet find reasons to exclude. The church of Christ is motivated by the idea that all of us share one unifying trait – we are created in the very image and likeness of God.

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Filed under Christian, Damascus road, diversity, God questions, heavenly citizenship, image of God, Love Wins, multicultural, post-Christian, post-modern, questions of church, racial equality, racism, religion, religious system, Uncategorized

Emergent

I like conversations that include the concepts of emergent, post-modern and post-Christian. I have found much hope in the emergent movement. From my perspective those involved in these conversations are interested in redefining Christianity in a way that moves it beyond the “good old boys club.” A more inclusive faith is good for everyone.

Earlier this month, I was part of a conversation about the emergent church movement. About 30 minutes into a free-flowing discussion, a lady chimed in and made the following observation about the leaders in the emergent church movement, “They are just a bunch of cowboys.”

Given the sharp tone of her voice, it was easy to tell that she was not using “cowboy” in an endearing sort of way. It soon became clear for her the emergent movement was led primarily by, white, conservative men. These men were discovering that their understanding of the Christian faith was incomplete at best and wrong at worst. Before long, all the non-white men were nodding in agreement with her.

I was one of three “white men” sitting around the table. It would be fair to say, that I began to feel uncomfortable. As my discomfort increased, my participation shifted from talking to listening. It wasn’t easy hearing what some of the folks had to say. If I were asked to sum up the conversation in one sentence, here is what I would say:

“For too long, white men have defined what it means to be a Christian and God is much more than these definitions.”

This was hard to hear, mostly because there is truth in what was being said.

If the emergent movement is about white men coming to a better, more inclusive understanding of the Kingdom of God, then it can’t be all bad.

It is my hope and prayer that people like me, white and male, emerge and free ourselves from the need to define and control everything. The leaders of the emergent movement must find the courage to step aside and allow more non-whites, non-males and non-conservatives to lead and guide the church.

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Filed under Christian, emergent, mennonite, movement, post-Christian, post-modern, racism