Skip to main content

Logic & Experience


Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is from Acts 17:1-9.  Paul comes into a new town and begins teaching about Jesus in the synagogue.  He teaches for three weeks in a row and converts many, but upsets the religious leaders.  When they see his success they create a mob and try to arrest Paul.  When they can't find him they arrest the owner of the home he was staying in. 

What struck me this week is the dedication and love Paul had for the Jewish communities he had grown up in.  At this point he already had much more success and had more in common with the gentile believers, but he was consistent about going to the Jews first, and he only stopped trying to convert them after being forced to by law, or physical force. In a time when it is a cultural norm to hop from church to church over minor theological differences, musical tastes, or social circles, this is a message we desperately need.

Paul did not give up on his faith community, he worked to be the change he wanted to see.  He was criticized and abused for it, but the church as a whole is better today because of his efforts.  He didn't simply start a new church, he used the scriptures to make logical arguments, and he used his own experience to share anecdotal evidence.  The Jewish leaders were stuck in their ways and refuted both, and we should learn from their mistake, but we often recreate the same church culture that beat Paul nearly to death several times. 

Since many of us choose a church that fits our beliefs and tastes best, we are surrounded by people who think and believe like us.  This creates long standing tradition and thought echo chambers.  When a new idea is presented with logic, we argue "God's ways are not like our ways", or "Man's wisdom is foolishness to God".  When confronted with examples of personal experiences that question our traditions or deeply held beliefs, we ignore them as the "logical fallacy of anecdotal evidence".  We note that it is our responsibility to protect the flock from false teachers and wolves in sheep clothing.  I imagine the Jews from Thessalonica thought they were offering a similar service to their community. 

It is this type of thinking that has kept churches progressing slowly on issues like women & LGBTQ leaders, as well as any form of modern scientific symbiosis. Hearts have been hardened and lines have been drawn in the sand.  Churches have divided and created their own echo chambers on both ends of the arguments.  We have lost the diversity within the individual bodies that once allowed us to sharpen one another. 

Churches need to begin drawing their circle of who is welcome much larger, to adopt a generous orthodoxy, our faith has a long tradition of it.  We don't need to agree to belong.  Individuals on the fringes need to stay in place and help be the change they want to see instead of creating new echo chambers.  Those in the accepted orthodoxy need to let their defenses down a little and listen to the stirring voices in their community, they are prompting you towards progress, and they are part of the body too.       

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Divine | Shame | Humans

Shame is often the only thing between our creator and us. Our reading this week is from Job 14:5-6: A person’s days are determined;      you have decreed the number of his months      and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone,      till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. Job is struggling with shame and judgement.  He is wondering why God is spending time paying attention to him, a tiny speck in the great universe, a blink of an eye in all eternity.  Why would God waste time casting a glance at us, let alone fostering us, raising us, and disciplining us?  He cries out "Why won't God just let us be, to live out our miserable existence?" A friend shared a post with me on Facebook this week.  It was a video of her dog who had stolen her donut.  The dog had been under the bed for two hours before she started the video.  The video begins with a clear view of the dog and the uneaten donut under the bed.  The dog casts glances from s

Justice & Privilege

The narrative lectionary reading for this week begins a 5 week series on the book of Job.  We focus on Job 1:1-12.  This first section sets the background for the parable.  It is important to note that this is clearly a parable, not a historical text.  This means we must look beyond the described events and towards a deeper meaning within the text.   The story goes like this: ___ There was once a man who thought he was good, an upright citizen, a religiously devout man.  He made good choices and avoided all forms of evil.  He was so pious that he made sacrifices in the name of his family members in case they had unknowingly sinned.  He had great wealth and privilege, and so this was evidence of his goodness.   God was so pleased with this great man, named Job, that he bragged about him to the accuser.  The accuser objected "Of course Job is good, you have provided him with wealth, power, and protection. He would curse you if he was not so privileged."  At this, God takes the

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t