Conflict

Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Church of Us vs. Them: A Conversation with David Fitch

How many times have you read a Facebook/Blog post that insists, “If your pastor didn’t say anything about [most recent social injustice], you need to find a new church?” Maybe you have used this lede in an attempt to raise attention to the latest illustration of failed immigration policy, how racism has gone underground or the ways our current economic structures insist on an indentured debtor class. All of these issues and more are important. But is it possible calling out the lack of attention given in some churches gives fuel to existing antagonisms that further divide?

David Fitch’s recently published, The Church of Us vs Them: Freedom from a Faith That Feeds on Making Enemies, takes aim at the antagonisms that distract the church from its call to be God’s faithful presence. It is a reversal of the reversal. Rather than live out allegiance to Jesus is Lord, discerning the faithful responses to conflicts with wisdom and grace, the church has often been caught up in antagonisms that deepen division. Fitch remarks that when he wrote, The End of Evangelicalism, ten years ago, never would he have imagined we would be where we are today in need of disassembling the enemy-making machinery in the church.

If you are new to David Fitch, he is the,

B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary Chicago, IL. He is also the founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community, a missional church in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. He coaches a network of church plants in the C&MA linked to Life on the Vine. He writes on the issues the local church must face in Mission including cultural engagement, leadership and theology and has lectured and presented on these topics at many seminaries, graduate schools, denominational gatherings and conferences.

In The Church of Us vs Them, Fitch brings together ideas from at least two of his previous books, The End of Evangelicalism and Faithful Presence. The former is more academic analysis of Evangelicalism while the latter is more specifically an on mission ecclesiology. If there ever was a time for a work like this, it is now. We need someone to help us unwind the antagonisms that has left the church captive to ideologies of the Right and the Left as we deal with important issues that tend to bring out the worst in all of us.

Today on the podcast, David and I have a conversation about The Church of Us vs Them and more. I hope you will check out David’s other books. I think you will find an underlying trajectory that brings us to his current book. Check these out while you are ordering your copy of The Church of Us vs Them. For other of David’s books click here.

If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for patheological and give us a five-star rating and a kind review.

Most Want Peace In Israel and Palestine: A Conversation with Jimmy Doyle

Most lands us in trouble. The word most gets us in trouble, not most people. When we want to lay claim to the popular position or opinion we use most; even if we know it runs into the wall of fallacies. Read More

Weekly Wrap – Maybe You Missed These Posts

Marty Duren once told me he learned the rhythms of blogging by paying attention to site traffic. I do not always abide that advice. I tend to write when the subject comes to me. Sometimes my personal schedule means posts go live at odd times. In the event you missed one of these, here are some thoughts offered this week at The Edge of the Inside.

I should mention that Marty offered a kind compliment at his site in a recent post. He often provokes me to think about matters not on my radar. He also spurs some of the thinking that goes into posts here. He is a friend and often looks for ways to challenge the left and the right when it comes to politics.

It’s the Economy or, A Piratic Snowclone to Challenge the Church

I love neologisms. Reading up on the origins of the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid,” I ran across a reference to snowclones. It occurred to me that this phrase could be used to describe how the phrase could function to alert us to the subtle way the economy often influenced and influences the Church more than our stated commitments to the way of Jesus. And, yes I am guilty too.

God-talk In Conflict or, When Retrospect and Prospect Collide

What we need is a good dose of deconstruction. But, too many immediately consider this destruction. Religious pundits spout accusations of relativizing the truth. They spend much more time assessing the cultural implications often associated with postmodernism than the deeper philosophical turn that helps through the maze created when well meaning people face God-talk over the same event requiring a decision as retrospect or prospect.

Friday Photo – Sunset Line

We found a spot on the shoreline and watched the sun disappear into the horizon. I thought of the poetic description in the Psalter. “It [Sun] rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Ps.19:6)

Coming Monday –

Stephen Keating Undresses Pro-Life Tactics or, Let’s Get Underneath Akin’s Skin

 

 

Practice What You See – Thoughts from the Edge

How would Paul compel two women to get along when it is recorded that he and John Mark had a falling out that extended to he and Barnabas? Time softens? Maybe. This week’s RCL texts are mashed up in this week’s edition of “Thoughts from the Edge.”

One thought I did not include in the audio – Would it be consistent to say, how we practice what we believe creates the kind of space for unity that illustrates the possibility for peace?

 

Cultural Captivity – (Not) Seeing Our Own

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.merge-left

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. Read More