Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Antagonistes - Addendum - The First

As far as I am concerned the two questions I have been addressing here are the heart of our ANTAGONISTES. Just this past week a well known pastor, Tullian Tchividjian was pushed out of an evangelical blog site, The Gospel Coalition. His crime? Preaching radical Grace. Telling the truth about life. Telling the truth about spiritual struggles. Taking God's Grace to the extreme edges of daily life.

My own read of this is that Tullian was judged to be off the reservation, not just drifting. No one would say it publicly, but I suspect the integrity of his faith ("You can't be a Christian and believe what that guy believes!") was privately juried, judged, and found wanting.

This sort of in-house dealing, which feels just a little like A Man for All Seasons, conveniently, or sadly, lines up with the in-ternal dealing I am trying to wrestle with in these blog-posts. I think that the folk who black-listed Tullian were dealing with their own dread issues. I don't know what their particular issues are. I can only assume that whatever makes them cringe is threatened by a Christianity which does not line up with their tightly defined and refined orthodoxy.

About twenty years ago, at a clergy conference in the Diocese of Florida, we had a speaker from Trinity School for Ministry, Stephen Smith. He was good. I was a big fan, and was delighted when he took on the matter of world views. His routine was to diagram the basic tenets of Theism, Monism and Atheism.

Smith used dark, black, straight lines on the newsprint as he divided these world views one from the other. He explained the logical, philosophical and theological reasons for making these dividing lines so definite. I loved it all.

Not so my colleagues of a more liberal persuasion. They argued for dashed lines, or no lines at all; for a fluid, porous understanding of world views. Both/and, not Either/or. The clear implication of Smith's presentation was that the result of fudging the distinction of these world views was something decidedly less than Christianity. I did not dislike my liberal colleagues. I was deeply distrustful of their seeming fuzziness. It made me somehow nervous. They were so clearly ignoring the distinctive and definitive propositions of Christian orthodoxy. They were wrong. I would never invite them to preach in my church. Not worth taking that chance with what my parishioners might hear.

I have adhered to these dividing lines for most of my professional life, in school, church and personal settings. They have defined me as closely as I have defined the parameters of faith and practice.

At a certain point about three years ago, and I have outlined this in early posts, my tightly constrained system of beliefs and practice developed fault lines, serious foundational cracks. My rescue came, not in the form of law, but in the silence of meditation, the healing of self-compassion, the grace of mindfulness, and the peace of unknowing.

I have chosen wholesale relinquishing of assumptions, save the assumptions that suffering is universal, life is uncertain, and grace always works.

I am tending to relinquish faith statements, simply because so many of my faith understandings are attached to internally and externally distorted laws and judgments.

I find myself in sympathy with Tullian Tchividjian, sorry to see that the church chooses to put tight adherence to doctrine over the refreshing and compassionate appeal of Jesus to broken spirits. Doctrines and defining laws cannot occupy the same primary position in the voice of the church. Nor does it work to invite people to come to Jesus with an offer of free grace, and then harness them with the constraints of the law.

My conviction is that pure grace, freely offered, freely given, and freely sustained, produces fruit which does not need to be measured or quantified.

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Esperanza - Part One

Antagonistes - Part Four