Thursday, December 29, 2005

Why Lines Are Drawn

This is the most recent post from, the blog of Susan Gillies and Dwight Stinnet, ABC execs for regions in the center of the country.

In this blog, she show that she is well, quite clueless about why lines are drawn. She blurs the distinction between theological and cultural differences. It's really a rather astonishing, and naive, bit of work. She seems to assume that theological differences are mere offshoots of cultural differences. Could it be that people actually beleive (and act on those beliefs) based on conviction?

It reminds me of when I heard a political conservative say, "Ted Kennedy's only saying that to make the crowd happy." Then a liberal says, "John Kyl's just saying that to make his religious right supporters happy." Well, maybe Kennedy and Kyl are really saying what they believe. I know I do. And I even believe that that's the same, by in large, on the theo-left.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Drawing Lines

People in southern Calif. are weird
East coast people are snobs
Northwest folks live in caffeine la-la land
Middle of the country people are so unimportant
Folks in rural areas are unsophisticated

The country is filled with hicks, effete elites, and folks of “limited capacity.”

So, even before we have differences in Biblical interpretation

Even before we have theological differences

Even before we discover basic life view differences . . .
We already had attitudes about each other

Or, perhaps more importantly, we thought we knew what others thought of us and we resented it. Many, many chips on many, many shoulders.

But what is common among us is a deep desire to take the good news to the world. And so, a denomination forms, taking this rag-tag group of folks from north, south, east and west and letting them focus on mission together. Perhaps it was inevitable that we would eventually take our eyes off the mission and look around at the people with whom we are joined and say “Oh, no! I didn’t realize I was working with snobs and weirdos and space cadets and country bumpkins!
Where are the other normal people, like me?”

Then, add to this, the fact that we do have differences in our beliefs. Where do we draw the line at working with people who believe differently than we do? The drawing of lines is one of the things Christians have done prolifically. I do understand that there are always lines somewhere. The question is, do the lines we draw help our mission or hurt it. The damage caused by much of our line drawing has been profound. It may be that the disinterest in organized religion on the part of many in our society is because of our habitual line drawing. It has made observers distrustful of us, critical of us, cynical about us, utterly disappointed in us, dismissive of us – but more importantly it has interfered with their ability to hear the good news.

Why do we draw so many lines? Because we are insecure. And that’s pitiful in Christians.

Posted by Susan Gillies

Dear Susan--could it be that we are impelled by Biblical convictions to draw necessary lines? As one of my old profs--an American Baptist, by the way--used to say, "I'm not in mangagement; I'm in sales!"

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