What Historically White Denominations Can Learn From the Republican Party

The Silent Majority
The day after election night is like Christmas morning for bloggers and political pundits. Like eager children we come bounding down the stairs ready to rip open and reflect on wins, losses, gaffes and funnies left on the hearth of election night.

Oh but where to start?

I think I’ll start with race.

For as much as some would like to think that we are “over” race or that the whole reason we still have racism is because we keep talking about it, occurrences like John Sununu’s comments about Colin Powell and last night’s demographic breakdown have once again pushed race to the forefront of American political and cultural conversations. Other demographics: class, age, gender, etc. also play a huge part in the discussion, but over and over again, the pundits from both parties kept coming back to race.

The topic that has been particularly compelling to me has been about the future of the Republican party. In light of what one commentator described when talking about the impact of demographic racial diversity on the election saying, “The future as arrived” I am intrigued by how this mostly older, White Republican party will respond and adapt in order to regain influence?

Hey wait a gosh darn minute . . . White and older?

And this is where historically White and aging denominations like my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA) might want to tune into future discussions and developments in the Republican Party. Many of the Republican commentators described what is to come as anything from a pending civil war to a time for regrouping and deep soul-searching, but regardless of the intensity levels, there is obviously going to be some serious talk about how Republicans will reach the increasingly diverse United States population.

Yeah, kinda like what we Presbyterians and others need to do as well.

Also by Bruce: Christian Hypocrisy in Examining the Word of God and the Words of Politicians

While I doubt that I will be invited into the strategy meetings of the Grand Old Party, I do know that I may have the ear of some of our Grand Old Denominations. With this in mind let me not-so-humbly offer a few words of unsolicited advice.

First, we must stop seeing these demographic changes as problems that must be leveraged in order to avoid death and instead see these changes as transformational realities that must be embraced in order to experience new life.

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And second . . . well, let’s see if we can get a handle on the first one ;-)

On more than one occasion, it was said that the Republican party has a “Latino Problem” that must be addressed. While I understand what was intended by the statement, this framing of an ethnic group as a resource to be leveraged only goes to commoditize a people and does not invite new voices into the conversations as equal partners in shaping and forming the future of the body. This perspective only encourages resentment and disdain, because it forces those who hold power to give it up out of necessity and survival and not out of genuine openness to a new way of being . . . of being Presbyterian, of being Lutheran, of being Republican.

Some might say that this election and the current state of most historically White denominations makes it clear that it is simply a matter of time before our need to hold onto power, privilege and status creates an institutional reality so narrow that, as Brian Williams said about Donald Trump, we may drive “well past the last exit to relevance and veer[ed] into something closer to irresponsible.” And while I am don’t believe that we Presbyterians will be as outrageous as Mr. Trump in the ways we express ourselves during this time, to allow our deep theological and ecclesiastic traditions to be retrained and confined by our unwillingness to express those things in new ways and through difference voices, we will not only move closer to irresponsibility, but we will move closer to being unfaithful.

So as discussions about race continue in politics, and I hope in our churches, let us do so with pastoral hearts for the struggles that change invites, gracious voices that are committed to the conversation and liberating eyes toward who God may be intending for us to become.

This is an exciting and opportune time for us all and I look forward to the ongoing adventure that it is to be the body politic and the body of Christ.

May the peace of Christ be with you and may we see God’s blessings in us all.


Bruce Reyes-Chow is a native Northern Californian and third generation Chinese/Filipino who has been living in San Francisco since 1998.  Until May, 2011 he was the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a church of 20/30-somethings in San Francisco, CA and from 2008-2010 was Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is currently one of those “consultant” types who makes his way, writing, speaking, teaching and drinking coffee. His social networks of choice are TwitterFacebook and his Blog

This article originally appeared on Bruce’s blog at Patheos.com

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About the Author

Bruce Reyes-Chow

Bruce Reyes-ChowBruce Reyes-Chow is a native Northern Californian and third generation Chinese/Filipino who has been living in San Francisco since 1998. Until May, 2011 he was the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a church of 20/30-somethings in San Francisco, CA and from 2008-2010 was Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is currently one of those “consultant” types who makes his way, writing, speaking, teaching and drinking coffee. His social networks of choice are Twitter, Facebook and his BlogView all posts by Bruce Reyes-Chow →

  • Drew

    Poor article. Politics is not the same as Religion. We can change our politics or compromise our politics, but we are not to change our theology or compromise our theology. We are not called to change or compromise the Gospel so we can increase our flock like Joel Osteen. We can’t need to reach out to special interest groups and say that the Bible can be whatever they want it to be. Not how it works.

    • http://www.facebook.com/otro.tierra Otro Tierra

      I agree, Drew, and I think Bruce Reyes-Chow would likewise agree that our theology should not be compromised by politics (Dinesh D’Souza and his followers come to mind). I don’t think that’s what Bruce was trying to argue for.

      • Drew

        The denomination that this author belongs to is extremely divided at the moment, being ravaged by liberals that are trying to hijack the denomination and reshape it in their image. The liberals hope that by changing everything the denomination stands for and pleasing the world, that the world will jump at the opportunity to join. What they don’t realize is that every Church that has tried to change who they are in order to please the world has experienced rapid decline guided by the hand of God. While we need not be too caught up in small theological issues, we cannot be a big-tent Christianity in regards to fundamental issues, and if there is a decline, so be it.

        • 22044

          That’s unfortunate…when we need the Gospel more than ever, it seems that more & more churches are rejecting it.
          I read a post by an Episcopal priest on another site a couple of months ago that laid out the allegedly best marketing and outreach tools to keep the church from dying. No mention of the Gospel. It was a bummer to read.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            It is a shame indeed!

            We need to preach Jesus!

            The Lord Jesus Christ is far beyond what most of us could ever dream or imagine. His greatness, His beauty, and His splendor are unknown to many Christians today. This is why a fresh look at Him—a fresh Christology—is so vital. To put it in a sentence: To faithfully represent Jesus in our time requires re-presenting Him.

            Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you will have touched Him who is Life. And in Him resides all truth, values, virtues, and gifts, in living color. Beauty has its meaning in the beauty of Christ. Only in Him do we find all that makes us lovely and loveable.

            So what is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy. Neither is it a new type of morality, social ethic, or worldview. Christianity is the “good news” that beauty, truth, and goodness are found in a person. And true humanity and community are founded on and experienced by connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection.

          • Drew

            It’s sad, which is why now more than ever it is important to belong to a Bible-believing Church.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tjluoma TJ Luoma

          “Conservatives” have been accusing “liberals” of ruining Christianity ever since Paul wanted to start reaching out to Gentiles are setting aside circumcision.

          (Of course the Pharisees loved the law so much that they crucified Jesus for failing to live up to their interpretation of it.)

          Circumcision was the oldest tradition that the early Christians had. It was central to their identity. It was an essential part of who they were and the covenant they had with God going back to the promise made to Abraham.

          Paul argued that it didn’t matter any more, and should be set aside.

          He did not have Scripture on his side.

          He did not have tradition on his side.

          He did not have any specific teaching from Jesus on his side.

          All he had was his understanding of who Jesus was, what Jesus taught, and what Jesus thought was important.

          Peter and many other of the most influential leaders of the early Church disagreed with Paul at first. I can imagine that they accused him of watering down the message in order to please the world. And I imagine many smug, self-satisfied believers thought that he was dead wrong.

          But now we look back on this and realize that he was absolutely right.

          The white upper/middle-class church in America has (largely) stood against every step society has made towards equality, and each time they have warned that if this happened, America and the church was doomed. In time the church has come to see that it was wrong, often being pulled kicking and screaming into accepting women and people of other races into positions of power and authority, or even equality.

          So you’ll excuse me if I don’t accept your decree that the Church and society is doomed again. It sounds too much like what people worried about when segregation was dying.

          • Drew

            TJ,

            Homosexuality is just one of many issues that liberals are trying to divide that denomination over; there are many others.

            What is telling is that over the past thirty years, the denominations that have embraced secular liberalism and have changed their beliefs to satisfy the world have seen the steepest drops in membership, while the moderate and conservative denominations have largely avoided these drops or have grown. I’m glad to be in a denomination that is growing and that sticks to its beliefs and is not being hijacked or divided be people with their own agendas. The key to Church growth has never been redefining Christianity but rather preaching and teaching the Gospel.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            Hmm…interesting.

            The Catholic church has split 3 times…

            How many times has the Protestant church split? Ok, a better question: how many times has it split this month?

          • Drew

            I agree that a split is not always bad, but I can also say that not all splits are created equal. Also, you never address my point, which is becoming a common tactic of yours. My point is that not only is it bad for liberals to splinter these denominations, but that it is resulting in the destruction of their denominations. ELCA, UCC, P-USA, are all in steep decline. The SBC is in a slight decline, but many conservative denominations are increasing – AoG, CAMA, ect.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            How do we go to church when church is who we are?

            I can’t “go to Ryan”…I am Ryan.

            To call a building a church is ludicrous.

          • 22044

            If the church is God’s people together – as I laid out that definition elsewhere on this site – then it is reasonable verbal discourse to say “I will go to church”. Unless you live in an intentional community, you aren’t with God’s people all the time. It’s like saying “I will go to a meeting”. God’s people might use a building to meet, but a building is not required.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            This article by Darin Hufford so well sums up my feelings and experiences with this issue that I just had to repost it.
            ________________________
            “My wife and I made a decision about two and a half years ago that we were going to stop going to the “Institutional church”. We did not come to this conclusion through bitterness caused by church, we simply made a decision based on things that we had seen and personally felt for years but were (until that time) unwilling to admit. When I say “church” I am not talking about the Church Universal. I’m talking about the institution of church that we know today.

            For the most part I think “church” is a business. In fact, many churches readily and openly admit that. I have a difficult time believing that what we know of “church” today is at all what Christ had in mind. It’s become a play. Worse than that; it’s become a rerun of a play. And yet even worse, it’s become a rerun of a play, lead by hijackers.

            Someone somewhere along the line got the idea of putting on a “play” for people and calling it church. The spectators sit quietly waiting for the performance to begin. Each week they start with colorful music and someone leads them in four or five songs. Then the spectators sit down and wait for the announcements. Once that’s finished, the spectators are encouraged to give money to the “playhouse”. Then the spectators sit quietly and listen to a guy stand up and tell them what God is saying.

            When he finishes, all the spectators file out the door, pick up their children and head for home. On the way home they discuss the play. How the worship team did, how the Pastor preached and so on. Seven days later, they return and experience it all over again.

            I call it a “rerun” of a play because if you have been to church for three years or more, that’s exactly what it is.

            They basically quit filming new episodes, and are now playing the spectators reruns of old episodes. It’s the same thing every week. Perhaps this is why Christ’s ministry was only three years.

            After that, He would only be repeating Himself. Other than a new song here and there, everything else is pretty much the same. The Pastor reminds you that “Christ took the nails for you”, and you need not to sin, and you need to read your Bible and pray, and (most importantly) you need to come to church every week and put money in the offering, and then it’s over.

            Week in and week out, it’s the same thing.

            (click “Read More…”)

            I’m not blaming the Pastors of America for this. I honestly don’t think it’s their fault for not preaching something “new” every week. Truthfully, I don’t think they could even if they wanted to.

            I do however; blame them for making people feel like they have to continue coming week after week or else God will be disappointed in them.

            This is where the “business” of the playhouse comes in. People are encouraged to keep coming back because the organization needs their money. If people ever felt like they could graduate from the institution, and live their lives in the world with what they know, it would be a devastating blow that eventually would destroy the institution.

            It is this way because “church” as you and I know it today has been built on the teaching that “once you are in, you are never allowed to leave”. There is no such thing as graduation or moving on. We are taught that we must attend every week for the rest of our lives regardless of whether we know the Gospel or not.

            If you think rationally about it; it’s a ridiculous notion to think that anyone benefits much from sitting through a re-cap of something they already know week after week.

            It’s even more ridiculous to believe that people “need” to be there every week in order to grow spiritually. My personal opinion is that it’s just not worth going after a certain amount of time. It’s not even set up for fellowship.

            You come alone, you sit alone, you worship alone, you listen to the sermon alone and you leave alone.

            Real fellowship happens at Starbucks with a friend or in your home over dinner with people you love.

            Yes the Bible does say, “Do not forsake the gathering together” but that’s a far cry from “Do not forsake going to a building and singing songs that were selected by someone else and sitting quietly while a guy talks for forty five minutes about a bunch of stuff you have either already heard or you already knew, and then leaving”. That’s not church; that’s tradition.

            All in all I think the institutional church is great for people who don’t have any Christian friends. It’s a great place to meet other believers. If you DO have Christian friends however, why would you continue to go?

            My belief is that you ARE the church.

            When people ask me where I go to church, it’s like asking me where I go to Darin.

            I AM the church. Wherever I go, church is there because I am there. I am outreach, wherever I go there is an outreach because I am there. I think the problem with the modern day church is that people “GO TO IT”.

            It shouldn’t be a place we go. Church should be something we become.

            I say that the modern day church is a “rerun of a play” that is lead by “hijackers” because I feel that the modern day church has hijacked everything that flows naturally from people who know and love God. They have institutionalized “heart things” and forced them into a robotic and ritualistic set of traditions.

            The problem with the Institution of Church as we know it today is that it almost always seeks to “take over” or “hijack” every living expression that results from authentic relationship. Then it tries to purchase a spiritual Patent on each individual experience and dictate when and where it will manifest again.

            Over time we find that everything that would naturally flow from relationship with God is no longer allowed to flow naturally. It must now flow under the orders and instruction of those who run the Institution.

            Beautiful things such as communion have now become cold and institutionalized. After all “church” now owns the Patent on communion. It was originally created so that people who love each other could have dinner together and in the midst of that time of fellowship, they would stop and remember Christ and what He accomplished on their behalf.

            They would acknowledge their present freedom and give praise to the One who brought it to them. Today, however, communion has been reduced to anything BUT communion.

            We now sit in neat little rows, and are handed a shot glass of grape juice and a tiny cracker. We partake of it like robot-clones on a massive assembly line.

            There is no fellowship, no eating together, no enjoying the company of the person next to you, no interactive conversation about the work of Christ, and no freedom. You see-dinner with friends and discussions about Christ are things that naturally flow from a person who knows Christ and has freedom. The institution has hijacked that natural thing and taken away its life.

            Another intimate thing that has been hijacked by the institution is Worship. Did you know that everywhere in the New Testament where worship is mentioned, it is described as something that transpires between the individual and God alone? New Testament worship is a lifestyle of intimacy between a person and their God.

            Today it has been hijacked by the institution and worship begins at 7:00pm and ends at precisely 7:30pm on Sunday nights. We are told what to sing, how to sing it, when to raise our hands to God, when to clap our hands, when to stand up and when to sit down. It begins when they tell us it begins and it ends when they decide it ends.

            The very life of worship has been strangled out of almost everyone’s personal walk.

            Giving is one of the most beautiful “natural manifestations” of a person filled with the love of God. Unfortunately the institution has hijacked that as well.

            A “giver” by today’s Christian standards is a person who gives to the institution. Almost all teachings on giving today are in reference to giving to the church. Even the very essence of giving has been turned upside down. The New Testament teaches “freely you have received, now freely give” and the institution has turned it around and convinced an entire generation that “If you freely give, you will freely receive”.

            I personally believe that the day “true giving” was murdered was the day that the teaching of “Seed Faith Giving” was introduced to the church. “Giving” went from being something a person did out of love for another, to being something we are taught to do in order to get something in return. We are even told how much to give, where to give and when to give it.

            The spontaneity of giving from a heart of love (2 Cor. 9:7) has been quenched and beaten into an exact mold to fit the institutions purposes. I have said many times that the world is unaffected by the giving of the church, because the church doesn’t give to the world, it gives to itself. The church stiffs the world.

            Today’s church members cannot even have relationships unless they were formed and directed by the institution. People are told where to go to “cell group”, who to open up to, what to do when at the meeting and how to do it. Nothing is allowed to happen on its own.

            Everything is pre-determined and laid out in the exact institutional order. Gone are the days where each person chooses their own friends based on who they “click” with and who they don’t. Today, friendship is determined and ordered by the leadership and who ever the church links you together with.

            If you live on 5th street and Main, and Mr., and Mrs. Jones live close to your area; they become your “home fellowship” group. You must open up to them and have relationship with them. Every Thursday evening at 6:00 sharp-relationship begins and at approximately 7:45 it ends. You are encouraged to NOT have friends outside of the church. The institution dictates where you can and cannot go after work, who you can go there with and what you can and can’t do while you are there.

            If you look closely all throughout the institution, you will find that almost every single area of a person’s life is “taken over” and hijacked by the institution. Even things like “hearing from God” have been taken away. People are taught that the way they hear from God is “through the pastor” or “through others in the institution”.

            Even the most personal things of all are stripped away. The beauty and honor of being responsible for your children growing up with an understanding of the Heart of God, is hijacked away from you. Now the institution makes no bones about the fact that they believe it’s their responsibility to teach your children. If you don’t bring your kids to their classes, YOU are failing.

            How has this happened? In the beginning, the institution of church served the people. Today it has been reversed. The people are taunted and manipulated into serving the institution.

            I do believe it’s time for people to take a stand and yell “FREEDOM”!!!!!” We need to take back what was stolen from us.

            I am becoming more and more convinced that the “woman who rides the beast” (In Revelation 17) and drinks a cup filled with the blood of the saints; IS THE INSTITUTION OF “CHURCH.”

          • 22044

            The article is interesting if a little long.
            However, Ryan, I can assure you that a living, God-sanctioned church will not be stale. If you decide to consider regular attendance at a church near you, if that church is seeking to be a church that worships the living God, you will hopefully feel at home there.

          • Drew

            This is what happens when we put down our Bible and start loving ourselves. This author is concerned about what “he” needs as a hipster, not about what God wants of him and what the Bible asks of him. That being said, the author does have some aspects of Church right. However, what he doesn’t realize is that he can easily find a Church like that if he keeps on looking. There are Churches like that out there. He sounds jaded by past experiences.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            I disagree actually…

            If we take to heart the words of the New Testament and what “church” should look like, we’ll find 95% of what we call church today is not based on New Testament and much is man-made crap that we’ve thrown in for good measure…

            If you wanted to find out more, I’d suggest reading Pagan Christianity. You can get it on Kindle for $10. Worth the read even if you disagree with the author.

          • 22044

            Ryan,
            I continue to be dis-enamored that you continue to bash the Church, which Jesus loves very much and is God’s plan to carry out his mission. That’s a fact even when authors or bloggers write posts or articles that suggest differently. If Jesus is Lord and Savior and loves His church, nobody can be close to Jesus and keep bellyaching about it.
            I wonder if you are getting too much of your information in the blogosphere and perhaps on Twitter. That’s not a bad thing by itself, but it looks like you haven’t received proper training on how to discern truth from error. Maybe you actually need a good local church to get plugged into, to get some good tools for living a life focused on Christ that you can’t get here.
            Take even this site, for example. Some of the posts here are great, but some of them are trash that should have been left on the online “cutting room floor.” But you probably don’t have the education and experience to identify the good stuff from the bad.
            Obviously the blogosphere serves as a bit of a democracy, where anyone can express their opinions. But seeking the kingdom of God, at some point, involves breaking away from that, seeking truth that is always sufficient, and applying that truth in obedience to God.
            Some points have been given to you on how to do that. Please consider them. Best wishes.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            Excuse me,

            I understand Jesus loves the church. Yes, He loves the Body of Christ!

            The article above wasn’t attacking people…it was challenging the way in which we do things. We do things everyday, and even out of love, we could be doing things wrong.

            I have no problems with people. I have a problem with the way things are done.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            I am also insulted by your attempt to question why I believe the things that I do.

            I’ll have you know that I have been a part of Roman Catholic, pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran and charismatic churches in the past.

            I also read widely on subjects of church history, language, psychology, theology and do not only read current Christian authors but also those over the past few centuries.

            To assume that I have reached this conclusion haphazardly is ludicrous. I have an open mind and won’t settle for anything less than Truth.

            If you would take an honest look at institutionalised church practices, you’ll realise that it’s mostly adopted paganistic and man-made rituals…

          • Drew

            22044,

            Ryan means well; he’s just young. A lot of emphasis on postmodernism, liberalism, being a hipster. The important thing is that he appears to love Jesus. As he gets older, he will hopefully mature a bit. I remember not liking “Church” a whole lot either, until I found a denomination and Church that changed my walk with Christ completely. It’s easy to get down on bad Churches, and completely understandable. My advice is just to keep looking, instead of giving up.

          • Drew

            I have not seen good reviews of the book so I will pass. I am pretty happy with my Church, and not to be redundant, but I think the author is pretty jaded by his past experiences. My Church just doesn’t “meet once a week and go home.” We actually have three pastors – one over preaching and worship, one over home groups, and another over missions/action/community. We are asked to participate in all three, which means we are corporately worshiping and getting Bible teaching on Sunday, meet in small groups with other Christians throughout the week, and volunteer in the community or go on missions trip throughout the year. I think this is much closer to what the author desires or is looking for.

          • 22044

            TJ,
            You made some nice points, but they don’t address what was said. As Drew replied, the Church needs to preach the gospel and that is essential.
            One of my church’s core values is “the gospel changes lives”. When the kingdom expands, that is the impetus for making societal progress.
            If we wanted to use the Paul/Peter relationship as a metaphor for today, liberal churches might be like Peter, that they keep the gospel from going out. May all churches work to be more like Paul instead!

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            Well…define “preach”.

            If you mean, speak less and do more than yes, I agree!

          • 22044

            To qualify my comment, it is intended to refer to the specific episode laid out in the book of Galatians. We discover later that Peter repented and worked for the rest of his life to spread the gospel. May today’s churches do likewise.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            Love this comment!

          • OneWhoCares57

            Exactly TJ! What those of a more fundamentalist tradition fail to realize, as demonstrated in some of the above posts, is that their “theology” does not equal the Gospel. Compromise out theology?? Jesus commands nothing regarding our theology. In fact our theology is often a compromise of the Gospel!

            Theology isn’t much more than our limited human opinion of who we understand God is and what it means to have faith in him. For every Christian there is often diverse theologies (just look at all the division and splits in the church over “theology”!), sometimes learned ones, often heretical ones, but none can claim theirs is absolute, much less force it on others as though it was, well, the gospel.

            Rather Christ commands us to follow and obey him. He wants his followers to do as he did, for everything that he did is from the Father. Heal the sick, feed the poor, care for the widows and orphans, encourage the downhearted, bring Good News to those who are ready to hear, sell everything you own and give to the poor, don’t love money if you want to serve him, and take care of each other’s needs so that none goes in want. What we do is who we are–theology matters little. Geez, when was the last time we saw a church practicing these things without strings attached?

            I think this analysis is correct–America is undergoing change and the “white upper/ middle class” fundamentalist faction is terrified of losing power. It’s got nothing to do with the gospel. Because of this small-minded, racist, sexist, bigoted voice that has been harvested by rapacious right-wing politicians, the American church has come to repulse people rather than draw anyone by love of Christ. For these reasons, I for one have left the church and now count myself among the “Nones”–I’m tired of apologizing for stupid white men to those who are searching for the truth and are considering Christianity. The world is watching and American Christianity’s message is corrupted.

          • 22044

            You scorn theology, but you’ve made some theological claims by your own definition.
            If that’s OK for you to do so, why can’t others? Jesus promises in Matthew that those who seek Him will find Him. Theology is just an expression of that process.
            And your “stupid white men” excuse is just that – an excuse. There are multicultural, apolitical churches that are seeking to serve God. Maybe one of them is even where you live. Maybe you’d enjoy checking it out.

          • Drew

            Those who scorn theology often do so with good intentions, because they have seen faith without works, and they have seen theology to be used as a tool to divide people or claim superiority.

            However, these people miss three points. The first point is that this is not a Biblical but rather a postmodern idea, that there is no truth. The second point is that theology is often scorned so people can do whatever they want and justify it. The third point is that theology is a road map; how do you know where you’re going if you have no map or a bad map? If there a few errors on your map, a few disagreements, not a big deal. However, if you’re in Alabama and have you have a map of Florida, you’re probably not going to get to where you want to go, no matter how hard you try.

          • Drew

            Nice to see you fully embrace postmodernism rather than the Gospel.

            Theology matters. Theology is the map, our actions are the driving. Without theology, you are driving around aimlessly. With bad theology, you are probably driving to the wrong place.

          • Drew

            I’m not going to explain the difference to you between movements since you seem to lump them all together as if there was no difference.

            I’ll just say that while you have your head buried in the sand, the liberal mainline denominations are becoming extinct, all the while they are becoming increasingly liberal. The more liberal they get, the more extinct they become. They are either going to a Bible-believing Church or they are becoming agnostics or atheists. Look at the numbers… they don’t lie.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

          Drew – I love the conversation that has been sparked, but I must disagree with you in the assessment of my denomination. Why does it have to be such a vitriolic view of one another when we interprets things differently? I actually believe that the “ravaging’ is so prevalent because folks from both “sides” refuse to engage in the dealing with the tentions of the world with any semblance of Christian love and forbearance? Winning the day is too often more important than dealing with tough questions of culture and structure. We couch it in theological import, but really, this is about loving the fight. I also would reject the idea that size is the ultimate measure of the faithfulness of a church. One of the things that I deeply appreciate about our denomination – whether we live it out or not – we confessing that we are to the the church even unto death. Two cents . . . and thanks for commenting.

          • Drew

            Bruce,

            I disagree that it is “both sides.” The liberal members of your denomination are pushing through the radical changes, not the conservative members. The fact that the same issues are consistently brought up by liberals until they win by one or two votes also portrays one side seeking to divide.

            There continues to be a shift away from a Biblical worldview towards a variety of secular worldviews. What I see prevalent on this site, in your response to me, and among liberals in general is a postmodern worldview. There is no such thing as truth, so everyone can have their own truth. We do not see this in the Bible at all – both Jesus and Paul had tough words for false teachers and false doctrines. Yet, under the guise of postmodernism and no truths, we are to believe every teacher, doctrine, denomination is equally valid.

            So unfortunately, Bruce, I cannot give a pass to the liberals that seek to ravage and divide your denomination, no more than I can give a pass to other false doctrines and false teachers. Do I worship Jesus, or do I worship postmodernism? I’m going to worship Jesus, and reject false teachers, false doctrines, false philosophies.

          • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

            So is it safe to assume that you are NOT Presbyterian. Not sure that totally disqualifies you from assessing the inner-workings of an institution and may indeed give some unique insight, but . . . you draw some HUGE generalizations about who you think people are in the denomination. Postmodernity in most contexts is NOT anything goes, but about understanding one meta-narrative and then how we determine what is true within that. Please DO NOT assume that my views about the world and faith are not born from a deep understanding of God’s claim on my life and that I live in thanksgiving for the life, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. To judge a brother in Christ in such a manner saddens me, but if that is the tone and gift you would offer the world and those who would experience your faith, so be it. I may disagree with you in many ways and might not be able to share a denominational home, but I will not question your profession of faith. So for your judgement of mine, I WILL give you a pass. I have blogged about this here if you care to follow some bread crumbs. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/breyeschow/2012/02/22/sorry-but-i-will-never-say-that-you-are-not-a-christian/

  • Macroman

    As a Christian what attracts us to the “church”? What make us desire to fellowship with other Christians?
    My family has lived in three nations in North America. I started in the far north. We have lived in the east and the west, north and south. What we are looking for when we come to another area is “Life” within the church. Ideally this is the connection of the “Spirit” between believers. It does not matter what denomination the church is if God is working through His Spirit and the church is following scripture. Small difference such as the emphasis on missions in the CMA, community in the Methodist or passivism in the Mennonite should not necessarily preclude us from fellowship. That being said finding a Church that fits the “Life” criteria is not always easy. We have been a part of a couple of churches that were working on the “high Life”. We can tell the difference in these ministries as people from all walks of life are drawn and the church then reflects the community. For example: We attended a church in Waterloo Ontario. As a married graduate student I lived in the United Nations…..Married Student Housing. Reaching out to our community meant I invited Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian, Ugandan etc. to church. The church immediately absorbed these people and they became part of the community and educated in the scripture. Despite the students being math
    and science educated and from a multitude of nations they became part of the body. Eventually the church added another mission to focus on the needs of this group which grew to a couple of
    hundred people. Conversely we have been in churches in the south that were unable to reach across the color barrier in 100 years. Personally I bespoke to a fundamental problem, but no one wanted to listen, on either side of the equation. What can the church learn from the Republican Party? If you are not drawing people out of the diverse community, then the Gospel you are preaching is not resonating with all the people in the community. The “Spirit” that is within, which should be drawing the lost, is being squelched or never inhabited at all. The problem is many Christians have never experienced a revival and know nothing of the 10 or 100 fold increase from the community. They desire like the Republican and Democratic parties to march back and forth behind their spiritual trenches. They are happy with the small conquest of a few feet of ground from the enemy, even if the ground is from the church down the street.

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