Media

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.

Living in Sin: A Conversation with Jason Micheli

“I forgive you.” We generally think those words follow, “I’m sorry.” The Good News of the Gospel is that God’s, “I forgive you,” comes first. That is how Jason Micheli describes Grace. God’s one-way love.

Many couples at one point or another have reached for a book on marriage to help negotiate those difficult periods. Reading with a highlighter in hand pages of these books are scourged for the Holy Grail of marital success. Lists are made. Habits are rehearsed. Often these to-do’s become a greater burden than imagined. Frustration becomes the norm.

What if the better way to look at marriage is to consider it a parable for the love God has for the Church? For you? Micheli takes us on just such a journey. Equipped with a reprieve from stage-serious cancer Jason breaks open our defenses with self-deprecating humor, gut-wrenching episodes of fear and uncomfortable discoveries so that his encounter with God’s grace becomes fuel for a book we all need.

Today on this episode of Patheological, Jason comes on the podcast to talk about his new book. I suspect you will pause the interview and click over to purchase yourself a copy. Friends and family members may come to mind and you could buy a copy to give away. For pastors who happen on to this post or the podcast, let me encourage you to consider this a resource in your work with couples and others who could use a window into God’s grace that could well be the place where their lives are turned around by the Good News words, “I forgive you.”

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.

Plundering Egypt: A Conversation on the Passing of Rachel Held Evans

Just two days after Stan Grenz died, David Dockery began his concluding paragraph warning Baptists, specifically Southern Baptists, that Grenz might lead his readers into orthodox inconsistency.

Unfortunately, his pietism didn’t translate into evangelical coherene or orthodox consistency.

That was fourteen year ago.

Reading some of the responses to the death of Rachel Held Evans reminded me of that incident. In fact, to demonstrate how this works, the same thing happened after the death of Jerry Falwell. No matter your theological convictions you may be sure someone will take advantage of the news of your death to point out all the error of your ways. It makes us feel better about our chosen perspective on the spectrum.

Among we Southern Baptists it appears that orthodoxy is now tied to how one interprets the Scriptures regarding women in ministry – preaching or pastoring. But, one of the oldest creeds of the Christian faith does not make that issue a matter of Christian orthodoxy. What’s more, it now appears that after claiming to be a confessional denomination, Southern Baptists indeed have a Magisterium that weighs theological positions in the balance. Welcome to the new SBC. Entity heads take your bow.

Could we benefit from splitting the hair between Christian Orthodoxy and doctrinalism? I think so. Take this simple test. If Stan Grenz, Jerry Falwell and Rachel Held Evans all would affirm the Nicene Creed, then they would be considered within the bounds of Christan orthodoxy. But, given their doctrinal differences, they would likely not share a home in the same denomination. That is the difference between orthodoxy and doctrinalism.

When Grenz and Evans moved beyond the doctrinalism of Evangelicalism that did not mean they were now unorthodox. What’s more, if Grenz identified as a Pietist with a PhD then, he is echoing what my friend Bill Borror recently described on a podcast. Bill used the imagery of Isreal leaving Egypt for his own move out of Evangelicalism and into a different Christian stream most would consider Mainline. He noted that he felt like he had left Egypt carrying with him some plunder.

Listening to Rachel Held Evans and reading her books reveals much the same. While she left her Baptist, Evangelical roots, she maintained the fervor of an Evangelical even if she found her home in the Episcopalian branch of the Christian tree. Think the late Robert Weber who followed the Canterbury Trail later in his life.

Tommie Marshell joins me on this podcast episode. We talk about her response to Rachel, public responses on social media and in major publications. We work to distinguish between orthodoxy and doctrinalism. Take a listen and leave your thoughts in the comments. Be nice.

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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.

Chains of Grace: A Conversation with Rick Davis

We are all addicts. Amidst a culture bent on positivity, Karsten’s maxim could not be considered good news. He did not back down.

Let’s give Karsten his conclusion. When we do we admit that we are all at the same time captive. At some point, these circumstances, addicted and captive, will lead to incarceration. When a person has served his or her time in prison, what next?

Dr. Rick Davis is my guest on this episode of patheological. I met Rick in 1985. We have been friends ever since. He is also my mentor. After serving as a preacher, pastor and denominational employee since his days in high school, Rick is now the Executive Director for Chains of Grace.

We recorded this conversation during Holy Week. I had hopes that it would post that week. Ministry responsibilities take precedent over my side (not) hustle. I am glad to post it today as I recently read about a survey that indicated Americans experience stress at greater levels than those in any other Country. You could say we are captive, even incarcerated, by forces that lead to all sorts of poor decisions. So, you may not have been in prison like those with whom Dr. Davis and Chains of Grace serve, but be sure we are all looking for those that will walk with us once we discover we have been set free.

After listening to the podcast click over and support Chains of Grace. Rick notes more than once in the podcast all the ways you can help. You may also want to subscribe to the Chains of Grace podcast, Re-Entry. These short episodes highlight the stories of those whose lives have been changed by God’s grace.

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.

Life In Review or, A Pastor Moves Forward by Looking Back: A Conversation with Scott Scrivner

Five years ago the iconic Mummers Theater, also known as Stage Center, was demolished. Considered a modern architectural marvel, it served an interesting feature for the annual Oklahoma City Arts Festival for years. Then it flooded. Efforts to save the building failed. What eventually takes the now vacated space will be influenced by the experiences with the former structure.

A person’s faith journey is not much different.

Even for a pastor.

On this episode of patheological: the podcast for the Pastor-Theologian, Scott Scrivner and I talk about his recent book, Life in Review: An Interactive Guide to Deconstruct Faith Toward Hope. The product of his recent Doctor of Ministry Degree where he worked with Leonard Sweet and no doubt studied semiotics, Scott combines a work that is part memoir, community reflection and guide. The book is as visually provocative as it is in its prose. Scott is Pastor of Convergence OKC and is also a graphic designer. To say this book is a bit of convergence of those roles is itself to risk pressing the metaphor too far.

If the subtitle throws you into an apoplectic fit for its use of the D word, then think of it as the journey of the late Robert Webber who wrote that little book about his own faith journey, On the Canterbury Trail. Or, consider it akin to Karl Barth grappling with the Protestant Liberalism of his day. If that is still too far, pick up Brian Zahnd’s, Water to Wine. No matter what word one chooses, these illustrations make the case that deconstruction is not destruction but a move toward construction.

Consider this in the book’s subtitle, Faith Toward Hope. I first heard this take on Anselm on the New Persuasive Words podcast with Bill Borror and Scott Kent Jones, faith seeking hope. Whether one wants to call it epistemic humility or an acknowledgment of the limits of human reason, the aim is hope and this hope is in Jesus Christ.

Take a listen and see if you don’t find threads of your own journey, even if you use different words. You may also find additional information about the artists, the book and more here at Semper Introspiciens.

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.