Tuesday, April 20, 2010

drawing boundaries

There are some people who delight in drawing lines. I'm not talking about artists, nor architects - those are good lines. I'm talking about people who delight in drawing lines so they can decide who is in and who is out. More lines are drawn to exclude people than to include. The last number of months there has been, from my perspective, an increased amount of line drawing.
  • John Piper invites Rick Warren to speak at his conference and a number of bloggers get all bent out of shape.
  • Someone says that penal atonement is not the only way to describe the atonement, and more bloggers draw a line.
  • Someone says that the church needs to address issues of justice and economics and the arts and the line gets draw a little sharper.
  • Someone else paints a position that leans toward an equalitarian view, and the line gets drawn a little thinker.
  • You get the idea.
Now, of course, those who draw the line(s) will say that these are necessary lines: the truth needs to be protected and defended. But it frustrates me, because often, the arguments are laid out in decidedly uncivil ways.

I wonder when line drawers will realize that God's Kingdom is an awful lot bigger than our narrow [& all of us have systems that are narrow and limiting in some way] theological definitions and systems. I am all for clearly defining, as much as we can, what we think and believe - but if it is not done in the context of living in relationship with the broader body of Christ, we are going to be impoverished; our definitions will be inadequate; our expressions will be narrow.

Disagreeing with someone or a movement is not grounds for drawing lines. The longer I live walking with Christ, the more I realize that I really do need the whole body of Christ.

I was part of the Board of OBC/OTS [now Tyndale] at the time when OTS invited Henri Nouwen to be the graduation speaker. I believe that was a good and right decision, despite some of the nasty letters we recieved from some individual and church supporters. Some could not understand how we could possible even think about inviting someone like him. I have been to many graduation ceremonies for OBC/OTS, Tyndale, EBC, Regent College - Henri Nouwen was one of the best speakers at any of them. Graduates and guests would have missed something if the Board had chosen to draw a line.

Am I saying that truth is relative - no.
Am I saying that there are no lines at all - no.

But I am saying that when line drawing creates barriers between believers; when our line drawing decides who is in & out; when our line drawing labels people; we are on dangerous ground

1 comment:

Scott said...

I'd like to post a comment, but I'm just not sure where to draw the line.