I love leadership, I love our elders, I love the Crew newsletter: The Kludge, I love Crew, and most importantly I love Jesus. So this blog flows out of all of my loves.
Here’s the story and it’s true.
Every month P. Stanley, the super talented writer, musician, editor, and close friend collates/edits our Kludge newsletter. Well, a month or so ago he came to me with an awesome idea about the next Kludge. What if it was written by folks who were friends of Crew, but not a part of Crew? What if it was written by folks of other faiths and even non believers? Gasp! What if as we were building friendships with folks who didn’t love Jesus we listened to their take on religion, faith, God, spirituality, etc? Not to agree, but to hear what is believed and thought and experienced. So, excited about the possibility Patrick, with my wholehearted approval, went recruiting and commissioning articles as well as putting together an article explaining the idea.
However, as is unfortunately common, the promised articles did not come in on deadline, save one, which made this issue of Kludge. So the Kludge moved forward with an abbreviated article and the idea was shelved. The current Kludge would simply be a few comments and editorials having nothing to do with the original idea and here comes the rub.
One of the articles, which graces the cover, was by Father Walt Jagela, a Roman Catholic priest in Nicaragua who we intended to be one of the voices from outside our faith. And without any context of who Mr. Jagela is and why he’s writing in Kludge we included an article that is antithetical to who we are and what we’re about.
I read the article and took it as his take on how we can do social mission (feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, Habitat for humanity, etc) with other faiths. Not only is this acceptable but it is a great context and venue to build bridges into the lives of others. I had my theological reservations, but in light of the context and where it’s coming from I said go with it. Kludge was posted on our blog, website, and sent via email to Crew supporters. Which, by the way, I’ve heard not one comment about the article from anyone until this morning. So, either no one was as discerning as they should have been, were and kept quiet, or no one is reading our Kludge. I’ll have to think on that. Anyway…
This morning in our weekly elders meeting we prayed and talked through our agenda. In this setting one of our elders, Brian Patton, brought up the Kludge and his deep concern with the article. Brian is right to point out that Father Jagela’s article seems to be working off of theological views that are diametrically opposed to orthodox Christianity and the teaching of the Bible, namely in the areas of the exclusivity of Christ and Trinitarianism. Brian also notes that one of our chief responsibilities as elders is not to seemingly endorse false teaching, but instead to fight it and protect our church from it. All of the elders, including myself, agree with this. Before moving on, let me point out where the article is right and wrong:
• In a pluralistic, multicultural world we are called to love and be in dialogue with all people. To fail to do so would be separatistic. Christianity is to subvert culture and subvert other faiths and bring them into submission to Jesus Christ. Not alienate ourselves from culture.
• Service projects, coffee, dinner, etc are great places to build bridges and have conversations with anyone regardless of race, color, or creed.
• The article implies at the very least that all faiths serve the same God, whether we are Muslim, Jew, or Christian. Christianity and Crew disagree with that view. There is one God who exist in three persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Only Christianity worships the one true God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) There is unity in that belief and disunity outside of that. If “we are to be one” it is be as submissive worshippers of Jesus Christ, not “god”. We aren’t loving when we blur the truth and affirm that happiness can be found in unity. We love people by pointing them to the glory of Christ and his gospel and are united by the joy found in Jesus.
• The article assumes that all created human beings are “God’s children now…”. Christianity and Crew disagrees with that. All of humanity are born as enemies of God and children of the devil, but through God’s grace and faith in his son, Jesus Christ, we become not only friends of God, but children of God. “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13). The Bible agrees that race and ethnicity has nothing to do with being born of God. A person becomes a child of God, through faith alone in the person of Jesus Christ. Not Mohammed or Abraham or self. Christ alone. John, in another of his writings, goes on to say that if you are not born of God through Jesus that you are instead a “child of the devil” (1 John 3:10)
As you can see, while there may be some agreement in the article on some things, there is strong theological/biblical disagreement on the main things.
Now as an ender. Go back and read my first sentence. Really…go back and read it. Some of you still didn’t do that. So go do it. Ok, its that structure that I’ll close this really long blog:
First, I love leadership. I love spending my time and energy loving my church, teaching my church, casting vision for where we’re going, and equipping people to serve God, one another, and Huntington. But I sometimes blow it. This is one of those times. I did not read the article thoroughly. I did not give good direction, clarity, and follow up with Kludge. I got sloppy. Again, I repent.
Second, I love our elders. How great is it that we are led by discerning, passionate, gospel centered, Christ centered leaders? How awesome that they love me and us to know and to say this needs corrected? A great example of the sensitivity and the keenness that is needed in pastoral leadership, as well as the benefit of having a plurality of elders. I dropped the ball, but the other elders caught it. Great work.
Third, I love the Kludge writers and Patrick Stanley who oversees its production. I want to go on record and say that Patrick is completely free from any error. This is my fault, not his. He submits every article to me before printing and posting. I approve all Kludge being put out. I want to be super clear that this is not a knock on him. I love the creativity and the innovation of the Kludge. I love the desire to walk the controversial lines and be cutting edge in our approach. Keep it up Patrick, don’t waver in the least!
Fourth, I love our church. And this is a major reason I write. It is a responsibility that I have to our church to discern bad doctrine and to teach you to be discerning. It is my love for you that I protect you from heresy. Your purity and your impact are too important to remain silent.
Finally, I love Jesus. If we give up Jesus and put anything, much less other gods on the same level as Jesus we have become idolaters. That is not what we have done and I want to keep that way. In leading our church to engage our culture we can begin to syncretize with it and lose the distinctive that Christianity is to maintain. In my desire to not hurt feelings I hurt God’s feelings. I repent of that and this blog is part of that process.
Thank you for reading this. Feel free to see me about anything at all concerning this. I love you all.