Dedicated to Ken Silva, Chris Rosebrough and Reformata
First I would like to make clear the fact that I am not in any way shape or form some kind a mindless follower of Jay Bakker nor am I a member of any Emergence Christianity conversation. I have found in both an affirmation of the beliefs that my reading of Scriptures, my personal experience of God, the history of the Christian tradition and my own reason have led me too. I have also found in so many that are “lumped together” under the umbrella of the “Emergent Church” a shared understanding of the Grace and Love of a God we serve with our lives.
I have discovered over the last few months a wonderful forum to share ideas, praise God’s presence in our lives and ....lose your cool in 140 characters. The first few weeks were enchanted, finding someone new each day who posted golden nugget after golden nugget of applicable wisdom and experience. It was a virtual treasure trove of resources to enhance my ministry. I even had the opportunity to hook up with some like minded folk who’s ministries I had followed and learn of others that I would have never met!
All was well in the Twitterverse...and then...A growing storm of conflict, criticism and flat out un-loving un-christian condemnation hit. Any attempts to block or avoid conflict were met with more lightning strikes of personally painful jabs or quotation marked words used to show (sarcastically) the folly of there use (i.e. in my case “pastor” Connie Waters because the assumption is that anyone with Biblical Sense knows a woman can’t be a pastor). Any attempts to communicate directly were used as (internet source) quotes and twisted like a piece of aluminum siding in a tornado to infer half true or untrue assumptions by the author.
There are a few things that I have found interesting in reviewing these tirades...I mean blog posts. First is the assumption of being the only true “Bible Believing Christians” I have yet to see a time in which another theology was examined and found to be in any way correct. It is only a slim sliver of the Christian community that is seen as experts or scholars. Any other credentialed expert is discounted as heretical, liberal, worldly or just plain WRONG.
For another thing, there seems to be a tag team effort to encourage a debate. There is a continued request for debate when there is no hope of anything being learned or gained by an exchange because there is an agenda. The real intent of any exchange is to discredit the other person and show the TRUTH that is so carefully guarded and apprised. That seems to me to be like asking a bear to place it’s foot in the trap! It is also interesting how most engagements end in attempts to debate not the person they are speaking with but the “head outlawpreacher” (not that there is one) Jay Bakker. What motivation would Jay or any other person have in talking to or debating anyone who is affiliated with Reformata?
Also, it appears that the players in this theological melodrama seem to WANT to cast themselves in a negative light. Ken Silva says in one of his wonderfully named entries that “I am well aware that they’d think I was some kind of an angry, narrow-minded fundamentalist bigot” Ok, I can only speak for myself but yes, that is how you come across dear brother in Christ, now that you recognize it I hope the Holy Spirit will help you to turn from that behavior. Even of his own “conservative evangelical leaders” Ken says “Well, I am not here to win a popularity contest;and if evangelical leaders -whose forums dwarf anything of mine - would stand up and be counted during this apostasy there wouldn’t be any need for AM, Christian Research Network, Slice of Laodicea, Etc” (Ken, there you go assuming again). Maybe they are silent not because they lack your vision and prophetic clarity on scripture but because they do not see this issue as an apostasy! Hum...it appears to me that many evangelicals have embraced some of the practices and understandings of the EC!
Another point that I find particularly irritating is Silva’s use of statements as overtly sarcastic put downs. A specific example that I can talk about was when he said, “The question is: why doesn’t Bakker, who some call a scholar, actually address the Biblical instead of marginalizing his critics as haters.” Sir, I am the one who called Pastor Bakker a scholar! And I would be honored to be quoted having said so! A Scholar is defined as “a specialist in a particular brand of study: a person who is highly educated or has an aptitude for study,” In every way Jay fits the definition, it has very little to do with alphabet soup at the end of his name and very much to do with the wisdom his ravenous reading, prayer, dialogue, life experience, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit have given him. And further more, he does not keep all of that knowledge of God in his head, he doesn’t simply read the word of God, but as all Christians are called to do, he embodies it. I have engaged him in conversation and have learned more about the Grace of God then from any PhD I know (and I know many, few of which you would recognize as scholars however)! I would not presume to speak for Jay but if it were me, it would not be the fact that I could not address the Biblical, but that as you said yourself, you do come across in a negative way and you are not going to win a popularity contest...would you want to talk to yourself the way YOU describe you?
And as for debating Chris Rosebrough, I have real problems with that idea for anyone. He does not even attempt to be civil, he comes across as judgmental, condescending,calculating, haughty, and a mean spirited attempt at satire in the style of Rush Limbaugh (of whom I am a fan...SEE! stop assuming!) So speaking only for myself, it is not that I (and many like me) don’t have our answers to the questions you (and those like you) have. It is just that you have made your position clear, your hearts and minds are not open to any ideas but your own and we can choose not to engage you in something that will be harmful to both of us and to any poor unfortunate souls who happen across the conflict, it is called “taking the high road” not being scared.
Our Lord asks us to be kind, loving and deal in a spirit of Grace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I understand that each time I react to the diatribes of those who poke and prod and use Guerilla Theology ON people that I do damage to myself however, God’s grace is there for me as well, and I will ask for forgiveness for any unfair or hurtful thing that I have said.
I am not attempting to create a showdown at the OK corral, I am simply asking that all of us think what we are doing to the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Acknowledging that we all see only in part what we will someday see clearly! I pray for each of us, that we can all be reconciled in the truth and someday have a good belly laugh in heaven at all the things we had wrong and marvel together in the Love and Grace of the Father who died to save us ALL!