We have to hold powerful people accountable

The series “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a devastating podcast series. It is a hard look into Mark Driscoll and the poisonous culture of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. But it needs to be told. And it needs to be heard.

In my own group, the ACNA, more news comes out about the mishandling of sexual abuse in one of our dioceses.

Why do I keep sharing all this? Sarah Bessey summed it up at the end of Episode 5 in the CT Podcast series: We have to keep the powerful accountable.

One of the old arguments whenever a larger church was criticized was, “But… look at their fruit!”

Maybe the point needs to be: Wait… look at the damage.

We are in trouble. We don’t just need policy changes. We need our hearts broken and set on repentance. It’s time to turn around.

Our continued hardness of heart

The past few years have done everything possible to crush the “eternal optimist” in me. Politics. Racial justice. Women in ministry. Sexual abuse in the church.

I’m grateful that I cling to Christ. Yet, in my search for what the Church can do in Kingdom work, I continue to be crushed and disappointed. All we are getting is a continuing “double down” methodolgy. We’re doubling down on Christian nationalism, racism, “complementarianism”, and guarding the leaders rather than believing victims in sexual abuse cases.

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History does indeed repeat itself

The church can do better

Twenty years ago the scandal of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston broke wide open with the series of stories of sexual abuse in the Boston Globe. Those revelations rippled through the Catholic Church year after year. I can remember the profound impact it had in the Twin Cities when I pastored there.

Over the past few years that abuse that has gone covered up in other parts of the American Church has slowly been revealed. As it tends to happen, scandals that break “out there” generally start to circle in tighter and tighter until it reaches a circle close to you… or a circle you are in. When it was “out there,” it was easy to look at the speck in someone else’s eye and think it was a log. Now, the log is revealed.

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Setting the world right

“… evangelism, which will flourish best if the church is giving itself to works of justice (putting things to rights in the community) and works of beauty (highlighting the glory of creation and the glory yet to be revealed): evangelism will always come as a surprise. You mean there is more? There is a new world, and it has already begun, and it works by healing and forgiveness and new starts and fresh energy? Yes, answers the church, and it comes about as people worship the God in whose image they are made, as they follow the Lord who bore their sins and rose from the dead, as they are in dwelt by his Spirit and thereby given new life, a new way of life, a new zest for life.” — NT Wright, Surprised by Hope

Let us, as the Church, find this hope-shaped mission, abandon our dualism of “saving souls”, and truly be about the work of our Lord.

Heaven and hell isn’t the ultimate question

If I could get every American conservative Christian to read Surprised by Hope, it would be mandatory reading.

Wright forces my thinking away from what I thought was the ultimate question: Who is going to heaven or hell? (And, did God send them there or did humans choose?)

Maybe we’re asking wrong questions, and this is what stirs me reading this book again. I need to understand what the ultimate questions are, and be willing to surrender my old thinking. Maybe the question isn’t about who is going to “make heaven” and how. Maybe the question is how is God going to redeem and renew his creation through human beings and how is he going to rescue those humans themselves as part of the process but not as the point of it all.

I need my life aligned with HIS ultimate goals, not mine.

This deep love for the Church

And he is the head of the body, the church… (Col. 1:18)

There are little snippets from Colossians and Ephesians that cause my heart to leap out of my love for the Church. They give me life and hope all over again. While I am hard on what I see in the white conservative American Church, it doesn’t mean I don’t love the Body of Christ.

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