Monday, February 05, 2007

Mainline Emergent

So what intriguing event or idea has brought me out of a 3 month sabbatical to write and actual post rather a personal update or article link? It is an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch that highlights the struggle between the Missouri branch of the Southern Baptist convention and a member congregation called the Journey.

To highlight a little background on the issue, if you are not going to read the article:
1. The Journey has a $200K loan from the state denominational authority
2. The Journey host a weekly "dialog" at the local Schlafly beer factory pub.
3. The Denomination has now officially "condemned" the church for this outreach.

So now you know what's going, we get to what intrigues me here. I struggle a lot with the tension this congregation is fighting with. I am a long haired, politically radical, cigar smoking, wine drinking, sex celebrating, loud, dreamer who thinks church should look more like refugee camp than a country club. I goto church with properly dressed Republicans who don't drink smoke or chew, who think rationally and have sex only to obey the command of scripture to "be fruitful and multiply." Ok, maybe that last part is an exaggeration, but we perpetuate this myth that sex is a dirty little secret hidden in our marriages and not to be discussed.

The tension in this is I love the Church, and I Love "MY" church and these people I goto church with.

Please don't get me wrong I live in a strange sense of tension in all areas of my life. Reagen, Tolstoy and Ghandi are my political heroes. I am staunchly entrenched to the idea that God condemns the practice of homosexuality, but still think it should be a civil right for any two people in a free society to marry. I think America need to use our wealth to fix health care, stop world hunger, and provide reproductive medicine to the world, yet I think NONE of this should be done through taxation. I live in tension, and that is me. My motto is that F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Still this tension between being emergent in a mainline church or denomination is an issue that those of us who deal with it must look for workable bridges between our two loves.

So living in a state of tension there is a distinction that must be made over my philosophical meandering and the true grit of a problem that needs to be addressed in our mainline churches. There is a "learnin" that needs to take place from the emerging church.

Wiiliam Willimon wrote recently on his blog:
" Mainline Protestantism seems to be suffering from a failure of theological nerve. Our trumpets suffer from our uncertain sound. The bland leading the bland.

Courage to speak arises, in great part, from the conviction that God has given us something to say. I recall Leander Keck (in a debate on the most effective sermon styles) saying "When the messenger is gripped by a Message, the messenger will find the means to speak it."

My tension with the mainline church comes from this. I want people to take a stand. These poor ideas that are at issue here permeate mainline evangelicalism and they come from coddling to a world view nearly expired. Many of the people within the communities I have been a part of don't hold any views out of detailed committed study, instead they hold them because it is comfortable to exist in a world of Christianeze that has no call to be defended.

In the case of the Journey I think their ministry in a brewery looks a lot like Zacchaeus' house and to me and the convention looks like a certain pharisee named Simon.

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