Friday, May 23, 2008

Doing away with empty threats

Over on the Reformed Catholicism blog there is what could become an execellent debate on church discipline.  Kevin Johnson is taking the position that churches need to come into compliance with the law directly to the heart of the conservative protestant movement.  Of course I'm joining in.  


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Debate the Calvinist

For those interested I'll be debating Frank Turk (centuri0n)on the contents of the Defense against Patriarchy. The debate is being hosted on his blog "DebateBlog: Ask the Calvinist". This going to be quite a bit more structured than these debates usually are. I'll be arguing that the bible is unclear on male eldership, and Frank will be arguing that the bible is unambiguous. I have no idea how this debate is going to end up developing. Should be fun, he runs a debate blog so I'll assume he's quite experienced.

His blog doesn't allow for 3rd party comments and I'll use this thread as a place holder for them. Enjoy.

Also to maintain fairness we are doing this debate in pairs of rounds and preforce I have to go 2nd, in the pair. If you see an obvious weakness / flaw in any of Frank's arguments please wait until after my post to state it. I'll be replying blind but I don't want to create the impression of any unfairness. OTOH since I'm going 2nd feel free to critique my stuff the moment its posted. Similarly once we get to the QA please refrain from commenting on questions until after the answer is posted.


Addendum 7/11/08: I've closed this post to comments. All comments should be posted to the closing thread.

Monday, May 19, 2008

gossip vs. lobbying

Whenever there is a movement to try and make change within churches that structural problems (particularly abusive ones) those people involved are accused of gossip. Since this word is being misused to cover political activity I think its worth giving a real definition:

gossip- Idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others. That is talk about others with no intent to take action

What is really going on is not gossip but rather:

lobbying- a group of persons who work or conduct a campaign to influence to alter policy towards the group’s interests.

Lobbying is not idle dissent rather it is a necessary and important part of any process of being governed and participating in that government. Another part of clarity:

undermine- to injure or destroy by insidious activity or imperceptible stages, sometimes tending toward a sudden dramatic effect.

So the good way to determine if you are gossiping or lobbying is this. If your goal is to change policy you are lobbying if it is to change leadership you are undermining them. These two often get confused

The SBC has faced a pretty strong attack by the blogsphere on the their leadership in the Georgia Convention and drafted resolution on blogging which essentially these mixes  two issues in a way that is very common:
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that we reaffirm the historic method of administering our agencies and institutions through elected boards of trustees, and we call upon bloggers to cease the critical second-guessing of these elected leaders; and
Leaders whose choices and policies can not be "second-guessed" and critiqued are not in any meaningful sense "elected". That's why the constitution grants this as a fundamental right to people, even above and beyond voting. That is many classes of people denied the vote were still permitted to join into organizations to lobby for redress of grievances. The historical method for administration of government in the United States most certainly includes an open discussion of policy and lobbying for changes in said policy. Not merely conducting elections without a press.

What people under 30 think

On many of the boards I'm on there is a constant fear that any sort of critique of the church would lead people away. Barna research did a survey of the attitude of young people 20-30 towards Christianity. Their complaints were not about failure to address problems or honestly confront difficulties rather what they were upset about was essentially the "meanness", in particular:
* antihomosexual 91%
* judgmental 87%
* hypocritical 85%
* old-fashioned 78%
* too political 75%
* out of touch with reality 72%
* insensitive to others 70%
* boring 68%
(from unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters, By David Kinnaman)
This is precisely the issue the emerging church is trying to address. While in a later post I intend make a more serious philosophical defense of postmodern theology, I think critiques of the emerging church on moral grounds that fails to take into account this reality are off base. I think its high time those that attack the emerging church be asked the simple question of what is their counter strategy to address this reality. Or to ask the question I asked in goth music:
Moreover I've even seen gospel outreach towards goths be attacked. For example Karen Ward (abbess of apostle's church in Seattle, leader / one of the founders of the emerging church movement) runs a very successful outreach to goth teens / 20-somethings called the Santorum Mass which is essentially a 16th century high episcopal mass done very traditional, very high church style. The kids love it, and it consistently draws huge crowds of people that would otherwise not go to church. I would consider this to be successful evangelism. Yet this has been specifically cited as an example of the "engage but don't critique flaw" of the emerging church. I suspect most readers would agree with the "successful evangelism" position. And if so then the fact that the goth movement is spontaneously creating fantastical scores for prayers and hymns should be something to be applauded.


See Also: