Hacking our way to clarity

The second half of this Holy Post Podcast has an interview with Philip Yancey. They feature his latest book, which is his memoir. Yancey has been a challenging voice for me for decades. (His interview comes around 49 minutes in.) With our current struggle with terminology like “deconstruction”, Yancey represents the understanding that some form of deconstruction happens in every generation. I think you will love his thoughts on the three things that brought him back to faith.

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Our obsession with “winning”

Decades ago I remember a column or opinion piece written about our obsessions and warped values. At the time it was referring to the way we lift up people who work hard, work long hours, and don’t have time to “take it easy.” The prime example for that article was Dick Cheney (long before he was VP). Cheney had some heart issues (well… that’s just a sentence to get teed up, isn’t it?) and he was praised at the time for going into the doctor to get a stent or two in the morning then getting back to work that afternoon.

No one paused to say, “The man is a workaholic and that’s dangerous.” (Except for the author of the column or opinion piece.)

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Influence

Over the years what I have always read about, heard about, and believed was Billy Graham had a way to proclaim Christ and be a friend of high powered people without having much of a political agenda.

Then I came across a documentary on a Catholic priest named Theodore Hesburgh. It was unreal how he influenced major government decisions across the board, from Civil Rights to nuclear treaties to the Vietnam War.

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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.