July 31, 2006

Evangelical pastor challenges congregants

Well, it is mighty seldom that I will post anything from the news on this blog, but when my partner called me over to look at what she was reading on the internet, I knew right away it would be worthwhile to post it... not to mention, it's a lot easier to cut-and-paste from the New York Times' website than it is for me to write up all that I want to share of my experience while at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)'s annual sessions!

Here are some choice quotes from the NYTimes article, published 30 July 2006 and headlined "Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock."

I'll interject a few notes here:

1. For readers who don't wish to register for the NYTimes in order to access the article, try these Google news' links.

2. This congregation is a few miles from where I live, in the nearby St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, Minnesota. I've already called the pastor to thank him for his faithfulness and to express appreciation that the board has not stood in the way of his sharing the sermons he had prepared--something that is mentioned in the article.

3. I get a kick out of seeing the word "disowning" in the title of the article. How Quakerly!


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock

The requests [to Reverend Gregory A. Boyd] came from [the evangelical megachurch's] members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

. . . . . . . . .

“There is a lot of discontent brewing,” said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the “emerging church,” which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

“More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people. Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’ ”

. . . . . . . . .

[Mr. Boyd] said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

“I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?’ ” he said in an interview.

. . . . . . . . .

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

. . . . . . . . .

Mr. Boyd has a new book out, “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church,” which is based on his sermons. He is known among evangelicals for a bestselling book, “Letters From a Skeptic,” based on correspondence with his father, a leftist union organizer and a lifelong agnostic — an exchange that eventually persuaded his father to embrace Christianity.


Mark Wutka said...

Hi Liz,
Thank you for posting this. I feel like I should say something else about it, but I just want to sit back smile.
With love,

Anonymous said...

I've appreciated Greg Boyd's work for a couple years. His book, Experiencing Jesus, helped me provide some framework for my relationship with Jesus. I'm excited to see the leadership he is now taking.

Albion said...

Dear Friend Liz,

Another great post Liz! I started a blog, and your invited to read it;


Yours in Christ's Light, Albion