Adrian has commented on 42: Back on form through atonement. His comment includes:
I suggest taking the example of Jesus. Consider:
- the variety among his disciples. For example on the issue of responding to the Roman occupation, he had collaborators (tax collectors) and those supporting terrorism (Simon the Zealot). Clearly they would have violently disagreed on issues.
- the sermon on the mount, we see no hint of disengagement from our enemies – presumably they would count amongst those we really, really strongly disagree with Instead we are to love them.
- the relationship between Jews and Samaritans, whole cultures locked into a cycle of strong disagreement and rejection. In response to that see John 4 (Woman at the well) and Luke 10 (Good Samaritan).
- the way Jesus continues to respond to the questioning from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Sure he disagreed with them, sure he knew they were trying to trap him, sure he warned people about them. But through all that he continued to engage with them, demonstrating through his answers a better way.
In particular I want to refer to Matthew 18:15-19, I have mentioned this passage before. Some Mennonites led a day on conflict resolution during my training. One particular aspect has stuck with me. Towards the end (verses 16 & 17) when someone is doing wrong and has not listened or changed throughout the process then you are to tell the Church and treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.
Now that bit is the crunch. Treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector. Explicitly Adrian's response matches the religious authorities of the time and those throughout most of Christendom ie if they won't listen then tell the Church and cut them off, have nothing more to do with them (in Adrian's terms stop working with those that we violently disagree with – like Steve Chalke).
BUT the passage is Jesus speaking. When Jesus says "Treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector" obviously we are to understand "Treat them as I [Jesus] would a pagan or tax collector". How does Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? Try the story of Zaccheus – Jesus invites himself to the houses of pagans and tax collectors, he eats with them (and gets the religious authorities really hot under the collar by doing so – "He even eats with tax collectors and sinners").
So Adrian, let us take a Jesus model for deciding how closely we should work with those with whom we vehemently disagree with. Therefore a challenge. How many of those who stand against Penal Substitution have you invited to your home to eat with? How many have you sought out and asked to share fellowship with? How many have you been to and asked to pray with, to worship with?
In my own experience this is a regular occurrence in Church ministry. Take, as one example, a friend of mine, the local Catholic Priest. We very vehemently disagree on a number of issues (role of women, homosexuality, authority of the Church as three examples). But we still delight in working together, in publ;ic and private. We share leading groups in Thrapston and Raunds (with all the other local churches). We both know that in any meeting we can simply ask the other to lead some prayers at a moments notice and relax in trusting the other. We share meals together, we discuss these issues and many others. We seek to support and encourage each other in our ministries both privately and publicly.
The point is not to say that either of us are special, or unique but that this is the normal working out of Christian faith, of attempting to show (even if in a very limited way) the grace that God has already shown us. The nature of blogging all to often hides this, encouraging people to move to the extremes in order to boost their stats (been there, done that, got the tshirt).