There are many different ways of bringing people into His kingdom. I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgment. CS Lewis @CS Lewis Daily
In my last post, I tried to stress my reason for being, to use the Calvinista's term, “missional.” In fact, when I first heard this term emanating from every corner of the Calvinista globe, I experienced a momentary euphoria. I thought I had finally stumbled upon something we can agree upon. We may have differences on how we view predestination, gender roles and authority, but we can all agree that the Gospel needs to be spread. But, I must confess, I have felt some uneasiness about this word “missional” especially when it is paired up with the words ”gospel” and “biblical.” These are all words that I have loved for all of my Christian walk so why would I be concerned?
The Bible is taken seriously at TWW
For our new readers I want to reassure you that we take the Bible very seriously and consider it the infallible Word of God. We have studied it, dissected it, discussed it, read commentaries, taught it etc. In fact, today marks an end and a beginning. At the bottom of each blog post, you will see some Bible verses. If you joined us about 1/½ years ago and read those verses, as of today, you have read through the entire Bible. However, do not fear. We will begin again tomorrow. Just click on the verse and the reading will pop up for you.
To our detractors, we say, how many of you defenders of the Bible have made reading it a priority? How many of the Calvinista blogs help their readers to read through the Bible? This is our strongest defense. We love the Scriptures.
What is a missional attitude?
But, I wonder if we all mean the same thing. Recently, I received the following email from a high profile Christian individual who said “I find someone who calls herself an agnostic offensive.” My first thought was “Wait a minute. Isn’t that what the Great Commission is all about? Isn’t that the perfect opportunity to dialog, to seek to understand, etc.? Or could it be that I don’t have it right? Is there something I am missing?"
Two science fiction books that get missional more than many Christians.
Recently, I finished the second of two fictional books, which moved me deeply. Mary Doria Russell wrote them both. Here is an excerpt from her biography found on Wikipedia. Link
"She earned a Ph.D in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan. She was raised as a Catholic but left the church at age fifteen, and her struggles to figure out how much of that culture to pass on to her children fueled the prominence of religion in her work."
Wikipedia goes on to briefly mention the two books to which I am referring.
“Two of Russell's novels — The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God — have as their subject first contact with aliens. Within the two works, she explores how one can reconcile the idea of a benevolent deity in a universe filled with pain and evil.”
The first book is The Sparrow link. I shall do my best not to spoil either book’s twists and turns. I also want to emphasize that if one is looking for traditional evangelical doctrine, this is not the book for you. However, it presents a worldview which challenged me to think more deeply about my faith and how I view others.
Earth picks up the sounds of glorious music coming from a planet nearby. The assumption is made that such a civilization would have much to offer Earth. The Jesuits, along with some scientists, etc. launch a spaceship to visit this planet called Rakhat.
This is part of the synopsis by Publisher’s weekly at Amazon
“Father Emilio Sandoz, (is) a Jesuit linguist whose messianic virtues hides his occasional doubt about his calling. The mystery is the climactic turn of events that has left him the sole survivor of a secret Jesuit expedition to the planet Rakhat and, upon his return, made him a disgrace to his faith. Suspense escalates as the narrative ping-pongs between the years 2016, when Sandoz begins assembling the team that first detects signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life, and 2060, when a Vatican inquest is convened to coax an explanation from the physically mutilated and emotionally devastated priest.”
This first book leaves the reader devastated as the source of the music is discovered to have its roots in other than beauty. Father Sanchez returns to Earth a broken man who no longer believes. Yet, he continues to wrestle with faith. This is not a spoiler because you learn this up front. I mentioned this book in a previous post and a reader urged me to read the second and final book, Children of God link and I am so glad that I did.
Children of God
Once again, here is short review from Publishers Weekly at the referenced link.
"Russell follows her speculative first novel, The Sparrow, with a sequel that will please even readers new to her interplanetary missionaries. Having returned from a disastrous, 21st-century expedition to the planet Rakhat, Jesuit Father Emilio Sandoz, the sole survivor of the mission, faces public rage over the order's part in the war between the gentle Runa and the predatory Jana'ata’s fury more than matched by the priest's own self-hatred and religious disillusionment.
In the sequel, he is forced to return to Rakhat with a new expedition more interested in profits than prophets. When they discover the planet in turmoil and the Runa precariously in power, the temptation to interfere is more than they can withstand. As in her first book, Russell uses the entertaining plot to explore sociological, spiritual, religious, scientific and historical questions. Misunderstandings between cultures and people are at the heart of her story. It is, however, the complex figure of Father Sandoz around which a diverse interplanetary cast orbits, and it is the intelligent, emotional and very personal feud between Father Sandoz and his God that provides energy for both books.”
This book turned my assumptions based on the first book on their head. There were grave misunderstandings, that, when seen in the full light of day, bring wonderful insight into culture and faith. I kept thinking that this book would be a great read for someone who is interested in thinking “missionally.” In the end, an entire planet was changed and the lost faith of a lonely and abused Jesuit is…well, I’ll let you read it for yourself.
The first thing I want to address is those who do not believe, struggle to believe, or have lost their faith and continue to struggle. You all matter here at TWW, even if you never believe again. May you know that those of us who still cling to the faith value you. Your thoughts and concerns matter to us and we hope you find here some Christians who actually care about you and are not offended by you.
Secondly, I am fed up with many Christians who complain they are being persecuted whenever they get criticized. They have an ego a mile wide and view any disagreement, however mild, cause for church discipline or screeds about the immanent destruction of the faith. This faith lasted through the horror of the persecutions of Nero, the stupidity of religious leaders throughout the ages, through attempts to eradicate it by killing the faithful in China, the Middle East and the old Soviet Union. If one studies the lives of the early martyrs, we didn’t hear them complaining about their lot. They went to their deaths singing hymns, and in so doing, changed a world.
Today, fragile egos in the pulpit and on elder boards overreact when someone deigns to say they disagree with doctrine or some new church mandate. If the Coliseum was functioning today, some of these guys would be dragged into the arena, bawling their eyes out and whimpering about violations of Matthew 18.
Thirdly, every encounter with another human being matters in the light of eternity. Instead of a screed or an insult, what would happen if a pastor actually responded thoughtfully and kindly? Wade Burleson modeled his strength in a recent post. Why do I get the feeling that men like Doug Wilson and many members of The Gospel Coalition would not have responded this way. Calvinistas-Read this post by Wade. You could learn a lot from Lessons in Dealing With a Disgruntled Church Member link
However, I do not hold my breath for changed attitudes within the Calvinista camp. Instead, we get more and more posts on authority, leadership, and discipline. In fact, I have a growing concern about the numbers of comments that I read in Neo Calvinist blogs which state that love should take a backseat to doctrine and authority.
And before there is moaning, let me reassure you that I take doctrine very, very seriously. That is not what I am saying. Love has become a dirty word in Neo-Calville and I am tired of it.
Conclusion: Missional appears to mean something different than I thought.
Here is my conclusion. Missional, in Calvinista terms has nothing to do with the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection and everything to with secondary doctrine. We must do it their way-complete with predestination, TULIP, “know your place gender roles, and authority, authority, authority, ad nauseam.
How do I know this to be true? It is quite simple. If Doug Wilson and his daughters really believe that Rachel Held Evans is a heretic, they would use this opportunity to reach out to her in love. They would kindly explain their beliefs, hoping that their response would turn her to the faith as they see it. They might take the opportunity to use the Calvinista buzzword, ”winsome.”
The Wilsons appear to be self-centered examples of The Prayer of Jabez
But that is not happening whatsoever. Instead, the Wilsons appear to be acting out a scene from The Prayer of Jabez. (1Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV)
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
It appears that this all about them. If it were not, the responses would be different.
Their own words betray them
Here are some examples. Please go to their blogs and read the whole sorry mess.
1. The Politics of Outrage-Doug Wilson link
“You will also understand how homosexual marriage has been mainstreamed, how creationists get themselves exiled to Dogpatch Bible College, how women wound up deployed in the Sixth Fleet, why the nation is deep in trillodebt, and how it is that the new bishop is a lesbian dyke from Ecuador. The only arena where the leftists have not executed this strategy effectively has been with the pro-life issue.
They deny the authority of Scripture, they accept as dialog partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains, they attack those who are seeking to be faithful servants of Christ, they call the holy wars of YHWH genocide, and so on, down the street and around the corner. Other than that, they are good Christians.”
Note how Wilson demeans those who disagree with him. I guess this means that I am not a faithful servant of Christ as well.
2. One daughter missionally writes “A Note for Rachel Evans” link
"I am all for a heated discussion when there are differences of opinion on Scripture and how it plays out in our lives, but as far as I can tell, that was never your point. You demonstrated more concern that the pro-S&M crowd could feel stung by some of the discussion than concern for the rampant slander you set blazing against two ministers of the Gospel."
3. Another daughter lovingly reviews Evans in Splashing Into It Again link.
"Rachel Held Evans is a feminist egalitarian who, among other things, refers to God in the feminine, is defensive of homosexuality, and whose forthcoming book involves her taking all the biblical commands to women, following them as literally as possible and then showing how ridiculous they all are. She’s a woman who has made her name by being a bit of a shock-jock. She talks rough and tough, and gets all crass on the guys she’s going after. But here’s the thing. She also makes her living by professionally getting her feelings hurt."
4.The worst review of all is by this well-raised daughter. Thems Fighting Words link“I’m afraid that the Furiously-Righteous-Evans has transitioned into her squeaky voice, and we all know what happens when a woman gets squeaky. (And to be perfectly frank, this is a level of squeak rarely caught on camera since the Temperance Movement.)”
“If a condescending man was to pat her on the head and say, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about things. You leave it to the men to do the intellectual stuff,” I imagine we would see quite a Furiously-Righteous fireworks display and a lot of smoke coming out her ears. So it would have perhaps been better for her cause if she hadn’t gone quite so public with a blog post that makes it clear to the meanest intelligence that she can’t follow an argument to save her life, and her ability to research appears to be completely nil. I mean, if you don’t want people to think you aren’t as gifted intellectually as the men, then for heaven’s sakes don’t give them blog posts in which you demonstrate your inability to think your way out of a paper bag. Just sayin’ . . .”
Note: Our readers need to know that said daughter now claims that this was just a satire. I do not believe her for one minute. I think this reveals just a bit of what goes on beneath the cutesy surface.
I want to end this on a comment made on the last post. You tell me if the missional spirit of the daughters came through.
A sad, final example
A comment from Hannah July 19, 2012 at 3:48 am
"Ah, so THIS is the Christian idea of brotherly (or sisterly, in this case) love. Oh, it’s not? Well, then I was unaware of the fact that spite and malice were fruits of the spirit. Wasn’t it Jesus who said that when an “evil person” strikes you, you are to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)?
This is my first time reading material from both you and RHE. And, really? “Just give me one sec while I put on my pointy stilettos, my biggest rings, and call my sister . . . and then we can step down the alley here”… Because that sounds Christian AND ladylike. You’d think that a woman educated in the ways of both logic and rhetoric would be able to come up with a better way to address a challenger than use such logical fallacies as ad hominem, straw man, and red herring.
So thanks A TON, Rebekah, for reminding me why I made the transition from Christianity to Atheism. I was starting to wonder for a little bit but this amazing display of restraint and Christian principles really solidified it for me. Peace. "
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. If this post has upset any of the Wilson clan or their supporters, let me reassure you. It was all just a satire…
Lydia's Corner: Malachi 3:1-4:6 Revelation 22:1-21 Psalm 150:1-6 Proverbs 31:25-31 We begin again tomorrow!