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Thursday, June 07, 2007

2.0 Conversations I am not having

Although it was better at some churches than others, theological conversations were almost exclusively tethered to one of two things:

1. a theology of personal moral behavior, with each prescribed bad behavior jacked up by a verse in the Bible.

2. a theology of corporate moral behavior determined by a preset order of doctrine rooted in an established understanding of Biblical scripture.

The Bible was essentially a moral code by which individuals and groups should follow in order to avoid Hell. Many of these conversations centered on the use of instrumental music in worship, the role of women in the church, the role of elders and deacons, and proper communion practices. There were other side issues about what the church should be named, how the church can meet (small groups was a revolution much resisted), and so forth.

Authority was huge. Women had none. With men there was a hierarchy. Elders wielded the most clout and the elder with the strongest personality ran the church (unofficially of course). Deacons and ministers ranked second behind elders. Young men who toed the line were next.

The person with the authority maintained the moral standard.

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I have not had a single conversation on instrumental worship, worship styles, or praise teams in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on women's roles inthe church in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on proper communion practices in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on moral authority in the church.

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People do not have to be uniform on morality to be unified on somethng great. This is something I have been coming to believe over the past decade, but now I am seeing played out in real life. In fact, moral uniformity is one of the greatest hindrances to unity.

I am in a place now where I am in a group of people who are looking for answers with no fall back. No restoration movement to fall back on. No pre-established answers to take comfort in if we don't find something new. No comfort in the idea that change won't happen too quickly because change only happens through long debates, extensive teaching, and older opposers attrition or death.

If we do not know the answers to questions, then we just don't know. No denominiation or group or movement came before us wherein we can take comfort. Don't even say, "emergent is your group." Emergent doesn't work that way. It is much less organized than you think and it does not make up rules. There are lots of questions that don't even get asked because they are not relevant. Is it right or appropriate to use the same space for worship and an art gallery? In my context, that is actually a dumb question. However, in other contexts, that would be cause for debate and at some point, scripture would be brought into it.

Anyway, I need to be done with this post. I am not in a perfect place, nor am I in a better place. Instead, I am in a different place that allows me some relief from conversation I was weary of.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what conversations are you having these days?

TCS said...

Are you sure its not better? sounds better to me.

Fajita said...

We are talking about slavery of children and women in the sex trade, in work, and in militias. It's a global problem, but it is local as well.

Just two weeks ago in Minneapolis, a sex ring of brothels was busted and sex slaves rescued from their oppressors.

We are trying to find out how to support local efforts to stop this kind of thing. The faith community has been uninformed about 27 million slaves globally. We were shocked when we leared of such things. So, no we are taking some action.

Marshall Brown said...

I'm still having those conversations that you are no longer having.

But I will say this, it is more conversation than debate. It is more conversations about the need to have fewer of those conversations. I'm not having a lot of arguments, just eye-opening, freedom-producing conversations.

I'm jealous of you not having to wade through some of those things anymore. I wish I could experience that freedom in a church family myself, but honestly, I'm too tied to the paycheck.

Fajita said...

Marshall, you are one of the people who is good to be having those conversations because you are believable and a good guy - and tolerant (or tied a paycheck). But I don't believe you'd stick around for a paycheck if it were intolerable or was crushing your family.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

It should be no problem to have unity if there are no rules.

Fajita said...

Our goal is to follow God in the way that Jesus did. Seeking justice for enslaved children and women is consdiered follwoing God in the way that Jesus would.

"Rules" is not the emphasis so much as justice and mercy and love. Rules can be a means to those ends, but does not have to be. Rules get in the way sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they do.

Fajita said...

When rules got in the way of Jesus, he just broke them. He was not a slave to human rule - even when those humans claimed or even believed those rules were from God.