My last entry to this blog sounds foolish now. I thought we would naturally put aside our arguments for a time and focus on the gulf coast and obviously I was wrong.
The PSW region stated they have “irreconcilable differences” with ABC-USA. What a profoundly troubling selection of words. The words “irreconcilable differences” are the most often used words to describe the legal reasons for a divorce. I felt I had to use those words once in my life but I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now. As a Christian I don’t believe there are irreconcilable differences. As church leaders, we try to help folks reconcile the irreconcilable. Jesus specializes in the impossible and we work for him.
But for a moment, let’s agree that a region and a denomination can have irreconcilable differences on a particular issue. Why does that justify breaking up a denomination?
We live in a culture that encourages all or nothing. I’m trying to figure out why we don’t have actions we can take short of execution. Folks disagree with the position on an issue of a pastor (or Executive Minister) (or denomination) and the choice seems to be keep them or get rid of them. Nothing in-between.
On the other hand, I can think of some very healthy churches I have know over the years that were different. I heard an old-timer say that he remembered Rev. “A” as a wonderful pastor. “He was absolutely wrong on the subject of ------. But he was a wonderful pastor.” A serious disagreement on one very serious issue wasn’t enough to terminate the relationship.
Today we are much more into punishment rather than healthy criticism. Why couldn’t a region board make a declaration that, in their opinion, the denomination is incorrect in its position or its procedures? And then get on with the tasks of evangelism and caring ministries? Go on record and then get on with ministry.
Our life of faith is a pilgrimage. We are granted eternal life with God when we accept Christ. But then the journey starts. The rest of our lives we work on improving ourselves, growing more Christ-like. The church is a place for people with bad habits, distorted understandings, off-base opinions, and limited Biblical insight -- people on a pilgrimage, trying to be faithful. On that journey, we may grow steadily and surely, or we may grow suddenly and dramatically, or we may stubbornly cling to a sin for years before seeing the light. And when that light fills us, sooner or later, we may discover what we thought was irreconcilable, isn’t.