Yes, I know that I am on a self-imposed blogging break, but I have been reading some things that I wanted to comment on.
Adrian (at his new url, is Adrian’s blog now a .com business?), has got all enthusiastic about wanting the whole of Christianity, I think that is a great idea. As I re-discovered during the 2007 Methodist Conference one of the things I love about Methodism is that there are enthusiastic experts on just about everything (evangelism, social justice, charismatic gifts, biblical theology, sacramental theology, pacifism …). Personally, I like a bit of each (well I would like a lot (or an extreme amount) of each really). I get so excited when I think of the whole Church being renewed through a big experience of all that Christianity is.
Sadly where we part company is that I really mean the whole Church, I want this full experience of Christianity for the whole Church, by that I mean:
- Not just Methodists but all denominations/traditions
- Not just white middle class men, but all people of all colours, classes, genders and sexualities
- Not just British people but all nationalities
- Not just reformed but everything else too
- Not just charismatic but everything else too
In particular I think that Adrian has missed a significant part of the challenge when he writes
Am I being greedy to say "I want it all, and I wish I could become an extremist for all of these things at once?"
In the past the Church has said similar things but restricted it by colour, now we still have Churches that restrict by gender (as Adrian’s does) and sexuality. If we are really serious about wanting to say "I want it all, and I wish I could become an extremist for all of these things at once?" then I think we have to mean this for all people. Otherwise we are going to miss out on what God has planned for us.
Of course I would choose rather different role models but I don’t see that as a problem, after all I am confident that we both agree on the ultimate role model of Jesus.
When I made this comment on Adrian’s blog GlenSP, who I confess winds me up with his very extreme views that he continually presents as if they are what everyone should believe (just look at some of the posts on his blog to see what I mean), instantly complained that " Trust you Dave to impose a subject that has no reference within the Post" because I said the statement should be true for 100% of the population rather than 50%. He then went for the other classic attack which is to say that if you do not agree with me then you are denying the truth of the Bible.
So in fact at least one of Adrian’s supporters (who also appears to be connected with New Frontiers) actually wants to restrict the "I want it all, and I wish I could become an extremist for all of these things at once?" to just those who understand the Bible in exactly the same way as I do – which is of course exactly how God intended all people to understand his word – except that it runs, as is so often the case, into the slight (I am being very understated here) historical problem that suddenly so many Christians from the past are no longer Christians.
For more thoughts on these problems of redefining Christian faith see two reblogged posts by Richard The myth of fundamentalism and Can I have my word back please? (especially Dave Faulkner’s comment).
What upsets me is not just these limits (by gender etc) but also the attitudes that sadly often go with some of them. Attitudes that celebrate intolerance and bully those who disagree, while demonstrating a total lack of a sense of humour and a victim mentality. One of the delights for me is that worship includes celebration, which includes a celebration of God’s creation which includes all of us. How do you do that with attitudes like that?
So please get on with the celebration and search for the extreme experience of all that Christianity is and means for us – but please let us to do in ways that do not deny all that for others, especially as a great part of what it means to be fully Christian relates to being in community and relationship with others.
[Update] Henry is with me on this in Threads from Henry’s Web » Enthusiastic for Everything. He says it well and clearly:
I’ll add just a note to commenter GlennSP,
who accuses Dave of bring in a subject that has no reference in the
post. To me, however, it does. I want all those things Adrian wants,
and I also want them for my wife, my daughter, and for all the women
I’ve encountered in the church, many of whom are struggling to find a
place they can use the gifts God has given them. I want it for a newly
ordained United Methodist pastor whom I’ll leave nameless, who only
entered ministerial candidacy when she was into middle age because
when, as a young child, she heard God’s call to be a pastor, and was
told by a respected elder, “Girls can’t be pastors.” It does have reference, because when I say I want it all, I mean that I want it all for everybody.
[Update 2] Peter has also responded in Speaker of Truth » I want it all too!.
But this is not Adrian’s main point. His point is that there is so much
that the church is missing out on, because either congregations are
going to one extreme at the expense of the others, or they are seeking
some kind of balance which pleases nobody. Just as Jesus was not half
man and half God, but fully man and fully God, so we should not be half
charismatic and half doctrinally sound, or half evangelistic and half
socially concerned, or any other half and half balance, but we should
seek to be fully all of these things.