Killing the Giants Against the Church


I’m at the Southeastern Jurisdiction DS Consultation and the leadership has been from the Turner Institute at Vanderbilt. It has been very thought provoking. Dr. Doug Meeks suggested this morning that our denomination, Christendom in general, and us as individual Christians have been overwhelmed by the “Giants in the Land” of Libertarianism, Utilitarianism, and Communitarianism.

All three thrive on a promise of false security by playing on our fear of death and guilt. Libertarians and Tea Partyists view everything as a property matter and it’s MINE, not yours and certainly not the government’s. I see this in the UMC and local churches and individual Christians as a silo mentality that is micro-congregationalism and anti apportionments; who devalue connectionalism and the view that I think is key: “Together We Can Do More!” General agencies are also libertarian in their turf protection. Utilitarianism focuses on public over private property and has great faith in governments and institutions to deliver us. It’s works-righteousness and leaves out sin and evil. Communitarians are believers in the tribe or clan’s ability to save us. No wonder that many of our church’s are tight-knit clubs/villages that won’t welcome a new idea or any risk-taking.

The Gospel is risk-taking and Jesus offends. The narrative of the Gospel promises real security through the resurrection message and grace. We cannot save ourselves by our human machinations as either Libertarians, Utilitarians, or Communitarians. The Gospel offers Jesus to a going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket-world in a radically different way than the culture’s panaceas. The source of our salvation is from God to us via the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection.

Our problem as a church, from my perspective, is having laity who are either libertarians who watch Fox or are Communitarians who want their church to be their homogeneous clan chapel; and clergy who are Utilitarians who are hooked on CNN or MSNBC and believe the notion that we are so innately good (not by the grace of God) that we can save ourselves and the world: be good, be good, be good (the essence of most children’s sermons). Jesus’ uniqueness and Christology are left out and resulting worship is a humanistic dull elegy not a resurrection experience.

Where have I been? All three, but I want to be an Easter person and trust Jesus to save the cosmos. He is the only giant in this farcical landscape of wannabe’s.

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