Thinking through the implications of Peter Rollins‘ little book, The Orthodox Heretic, left me considering the ways we often miss our own “logs” when looking for others’ “specks.” There needs to be a greater intersection between our lives and the life of Jesus evidenced in our living more than our speaking.
Everyone is moving left. At least what we tend to hear suggests this to be true. The euphemism means we are sliding perilously toward a day when “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.” Major moral issues tend to define this particular warning. Chiefly issues surrounding homosexuality and abortion as understood by the Church/church frame the debates. Each time someone writes a piece questioning the “once for all” moral positions of the Scriptures fear creates the need for certain assurances lest we capitulate to culture and live as if nothing is “wrong” any longer.
If any denomination understands cultural captivity in the South it should be the Southern Baptist Convention. Until 1997 the dirty little secret was the issue of slavery. Years after African-Americans won the right to vote the SBC resolved to apologize for using the Sacred Text to support such an inhumane institution. There can be little denying the cultural climate in the South drove the theological rationalization and the textual manipulation used in support of the institution of slavery. Naturally we want to hear our Southern Baptist pastors contend against any leftward “moral drift.” I get that.
What I do not get is how we miss the speck for the log. We rehearse our relationships according to cultural dictates. In a recent presentation a state denominational executive shared with his board the number one issue leaders face is conflict – church conflict. One of the reasons for such repeated experiences and constant expressions lies in the manner in which we conduct our “friendships.” In the course of a few posts, I want to think out loud about the ways in which we are in relational cultural captivity. The way we handle issues like forgiveness, reconciliation, and conversation (civil, yet disagreeable) lie at the root of many of these conflicts. They masquerade as conflict over theological matters but ultimately turn on a lack of theological reflection and our inability to see the deep ways we have already given up moral integrity.
Simply put, we practice forgiveness, reconciliation and conversation with little, if anything close to resembling the way of Jesus.
Sure, I do believe there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong. I believe some of these impulses inhere in our general understanding of decency as human beings. I believe the Scripture points to ways in which right and wrong evidence transformation away from selfishness that tends to keep us captive. But, I believe we who self-identify as Christians prefer to hear about another’s obvious shortcomings than wrestle with the reality we exhibit no difference when it comes to handling our relationships.