Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ecumenism Works

You mad, bro?

U MAD, BRO? (Photo credit: Fábio Gianesi)
I like to think of myself as a very patient man who is slow to anger and quick to listen. Last year was a difficult one for me. I found myself becoming upset to the point of not sitting in my seat for an entire meeting because I disagreed so vehemently with the speaker that I would not give him the courtesy of hearing his conclusion. Granted, I waited until he was supposed to deliver said conclusion. So unless he was going to use that conclusion to completely undermine his premise, (that should never happen) then my walk out was warranted.

There is not much that will upset me to that point. Most Theological points are so fine that I realize there is no point to getting mad. Mostly, an agree to disagree position suffices. The only reasons I have to get upset is when the core of Christianity is confused or misrepresented in a message or when my brethren are ignorantly maligned.

Run for the hills!

The last grievance is usually the culprit. A stereotypical statement is made about people I consider my brethren with no evidence presented whatsoever. The congregation is supposed to agree with these buzz-words and shun the teachings of anyone other than our own denominational preachers.

Jack T. Chick
Jack T. Chick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is in this vein that Brother X came through, bashing the Roman Catholics (as normal) with the tired, old issues that plagued the denomination in the Middle-Ages. Just perform a Google search for "Chick-Tract" and you'll see the old arguments. He spouted those off. This type of thing is sadly commonplace, and while I was irritated at the direction the meeting was going, I decided to wait it out.

Then he turned his attention to Rick Warren. He accused Pastor Warren of being a leader in the Emergent Church (He's not in the article). Now, if you perform a Google search for "Rick Warren" + "Emergent Church" you will get a lot of hits. But after reading those articles, I say a disturbing trend. I saw a lot of claims that Rick Warren is in cahoots with the Emergent Church, but nothing substantial from his writings or sermons were produced to substantiate the claims. If Brother X had produced something substantial, I would have been fine with it. But he failed to do so, and was therefore condemning his fellow man with evidence that amounts to hearsay.

But I suffered through his presentation.

Next, he turned his attention to the Baptists. Oh, you thought the Baptists were going to get away scot-free? Not with Brother X. He attacked their ecclesiastical structure and the frequency of their Lord's Supper. There seems to be no escape from the critical eye of a man bent on spreading the gospel of denominationalism.

But while I twisted and turned in my seat, I still would not leave. Remember my whole "patience" spiel? I gave this guy plenty of chances.

Time to go

Did I mention this guy is a missionary? He goes to foreign lands and preaches the good news of Christ's work on the cross. Finally, after bashing all these denominations that read the same scriptures that we read and believe on the same Christ we believe on, Brother X got to his actual work in the country he is commended to.

English: Ecumenism symbol from St.-Anna-Kirche...
English: Ecumenism symbol from St.-Anna-Kirche Augsburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
He works in a small country in an oppressive government. He said something that was actually very interesting about the conditions within the communities and their affect on Christendom. Since there is so much government opposition, the denominational walls are not as hard over there and Christians from different traditions work together for the promotion of the gospel!

So the Catholics, Baptists, etc. all come together with his group and promote the gospel. And, according to Brother X, the gospel is flourishing in the country. Well, what do you know? Ecumenism works! If we would only take the energy we use to bash each other and just hold each other's hand in unison under the banner of Christ's gospel, God only knows what we can accomplish for His Glory.

Sadly, this was not his conclusion and he did not even attempt to undo his previous work during the message. I told my wife that we did not need to listen to any more of Brother X bashing our brethren and we left.

Why write this?

I know this is not an uplifting article. I understand that I open myself up to the accusation of bashing others. However, I place this as my defense: I am only sharing his own statements. I have made nothing up and only presume that Brother X really meant what he said and would own up to them. If he has a change of heart, I would gladly forgive him (though he did not directly malign my Theology/Ecclesiology) and put this incident behind us.

I write this article for two reasons:
  1. I do not tolerate a bully pulpit. I feel that Brother X used the pulpit to spout his own ideas that were unsubstantiated by facts. He also diminished the actual tangible results of ecumenism while grudgingly bringing them up. It is out of a sense of justice that I shine a light on this situation and pray that others who may read this will be sensitive to it in their own meetings.
  2. This issue has been weighing on my heart since that fateful evening. I wrote an entire, scathing blog post and decided that it would be best to simply record facts and write the narrative several months after the fact. I feel that while I have been brutally honest, I have not misrepresented Brother X's arguments in the heat of emotion. However, I still feel strongly about this and that is an indicator of something I must write. I have an obligation to be honest with this blog, and I will not compromise on that goal.

Even on a personal post like this one, I value your opinion. What do you think? Leave me a comment below!

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Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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