Stupid Things Christians Fight About #2

April 28, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

What do you call a sequel done long after the original which barely anyone remembers?  Tron Legacy? Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps? ET 2: The Apocalypse? A bad idea?  Probably the latter.  When not even Shia Labeouf can make it successful, you know you shouldn’t do it.  I was going to put his picture in here in the hopes that it would generate some traffic.  Maybe if I just put his name in here it will end up on the Google search for his name on page 1274.

But it is not the gap between the original post and this post that makes me think this isn’t a good idea.  It’s the content. You see, I do not strive to be controversial.  Controversy has found me several times, but I don’t seek it.  This post seems, at least in part, like seeking controversy.  I may just write this blog post for my own interest and then never publish it.  If you read that sentence, clearly I didn’t.  We’ll see. (”Dude, if you aren’t publishing this, then to whom are you talking?” As always, the voices in my head)

You would think that stating an issue shouldn’t be controversial (i.e. stop fighting about it) wouldn’t be controversial.  But if the passions are very high, people often don’t want to be told that they shouldn’t be.

Disclaimer #17 (I know get on with it already) Just because I say you shouldn’t fight about it, doesn’t me that we can’t disagree or discuss.  I just wish we could simmer down a little.  That’s not true–I mean simmer down a lot.

In this corner: People who believe that certain pastoral/leadership positions in churches are limited to men.

In the other corner: People who believe that that there are no such restrictions and all pastoral/leadership position are open to both men and women.

You see? You are already mad, because what I should have said was this:

In this corner: Misogynist (read He-man, Woman-Haters Club. Boom! Dated reference!), neanderthal, Bible-thumping sexist idiots that think men are better than women and want to see women barefoot and pregnant.

In the other corner: Bible-hating, culture-compromising liberals who don’t care what God says about anything who dream of a utopian androgynous society.

Isn’t that how the debate is framed?  That’s how much of the conversation goes far too often.  We believe the worst about people, assume the worst motives in people, if (gasp) they disagree with us.

This is not the final, most important battle over the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible.  If that’s what you’re concerned about the authority of the Scripture, talk about that.  This is a simple disagreement about which passages should inform the others and interpreting and applying Scripture in different cultural contexts.  In the same vein, this is not a civil rights issue.  This is a “What does the Bible say? What should Christians believe?” issue.

But Cloften, there are some woman-hating jerks out there that believe this.  Agreed.

But Cloften, there are some people who teach this that teach the Bible is outdated should be ignored when we as a society have evolved.  Agreed.

I give you permission (arrogant, no?) to fight (verbally) with any woman-hating jerks or Christian teachers that undermine the authority of the Scripture. I would just ask that when 2 people that love both women and the Bible talk about this issue that we could show at least some measure of civility and respect that elevates at least a little bit over the highly intellectual discourse of say, Fox News and MSNBC. (FYI, you should feel insulted by being compared to them.)

But it’s a slippery slope! Slippery slope! (That’s both of you talking, BTW.)  Fine. Calmly, rationally discuss what you fear the slippery slope will lead to. When you are done, pray for each other, and go focus, you know, on, like, well, important stuff–people who desperately need Christ and those that have no food or place to sleep.  Certainly, can we stop publicly insulting each other?  (I’m looking at you internet)

I know some amazing pastors (of both genders) that are a part of both kinds of churches that love women and the Bible. (Did I just blow your mind?) They are doing great things for God.  We also know bad examples on both sides. However, for those of us who agree on 100% of essential stuff and 90% of everything else, can we please settle down on the 10%?

BTW, somebody is wrong on this issue.  It’s probably you.

Stupid Things Christians Fight About #1

Can you follow up one successful series  with another one?  Is it possible?  Well of course it is.  George Lucas is clearly the poster-boy for that.  How does one guy come up with Star Wars and Indiana Jones?  (He does that and what do I do?  I make humorous, sometimes cynical observations about life and tell goofy, mildly-embellished stories about my kids.) 

Let’s be clear, Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying is no Star Wars and this series is no Indiana Jones.  I might could say that SCNTSS is Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street and STCFA could be Scream, but the metaphor there is too painful.  Anyway, let’s see what happens.

In this corner:  Conservative Evangelicals who believe that the key to being a Christ follower is what you believe.

In the other corner: Liberal Mainline Christians who believe that the key to being a Christ follower is what you do, namely being socially active.

My History: I feel like I should start with a confession.  I spent the entire decade of the 90’s square in the middle of this battle.  I went to college at Hendrix College in Conway, AR.  I was a student leader and ultimately a staff minister for a college ministry there.  I ended up being at Hendrix, one way or another for 10 years, essentially all of the 90’s, from the fall of 1990 to Spring 2000.  We were the champions of the “being a Christian is based on what you believe” camp.  People who thought that it was important to be socially active by helping needy people were soft on the truth and were trying to earn their way to heaven.

On the other side, were a group of people who wanted to live out their faith not based on what they believed but living in a way that they believed Jesus lived.  Being a Christ Follower is less about believing certain things about God and Jesus, but were about following what Jesus did and the way he lived his life.  We were the Bible-thumping, narrow-minded fundies.

The Verdict:  Ridiculous, all of it.  Who decided that there was a fight to be had here?  How did it come to this?  Nerd alert!  In part these are rhetorical questions, a study of Christianity in the 20th century will answer this question, with the shifting of focus of many mainline denominations and the rise of fundamentalism in the 50’s in response to that. End nerd alert!  How does a Christ Follower say that it doesn’t matter if you do what Jesus did?  What does follower even mean? Not Christ Follower but Christ Believe-the-same-as-er?  Similarly, how does a Christ Follower say that it doesn’t matter who Jesus was or who he believed God to be?  That is not a Christ Follower but Christ Be-somewhat-like-er.

Someone who wants to follow after Jesus needs to understand everything that Jesus came to do.  He came to give us new life, forgiveness of sins, if we would believe in him.  He also came to show us the heart and values of God, to show us how to live in right relationship with God.  One of my biggest regrets in life is my participation of in this battle.  (When I’m older and bolder, we can do a series on my 10 biggest regrets and what I’ve learned from them) I can only imagine what more God could have done through our ministry if we had shared God’s truth and lived it out in the lives of the poor and needy.  Let’s not make that same mistake and let’s make a commitment to be complete Christ Followers, believe as Jesus did and live as Jesus did.

To choose one to the exclusion of the other is something, but it is not following Jesus. 

(Suggestions for this series are greatly desired)