ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS June 13, 2023 It has been nearly a decade, but one afternoon, I received a phone call at the church in which the caller had many questions about the church’s beliefs. Clearly, from the questions, this was an individual who was searching for what I would call a very odd form of fundamentalism. When my answers were not pleasing, I was called a "harlot" and an "abominator." I’m pretty sure the caller did not mean to call me a harlot, but a heretic. Based on the context of what followed, I’m pretty sure heretic was the word. Abominator was a whole new word for me. I knew words like abomination, but I had never heard that form of the noun. It was during the Presidency of Barack Obama, so maybe I was being accused of being an Obamanator, which I have no idea what that would mean. Whatever the case, it was an experience that has stuck with me. I always find it interesting that when people disagree on theology or Biblical interpretation, and the conversation isn’t going their way, some of those people will resort to name-calling. Oh sure, there were those in the Bible who called people names like: hypocrite, blind fools, and, of course, my favorite, brood of vipers (thanks, John). But in this moment of time, even when frustration is high and you don’t feel as if your argument is working, I don’t feel as if we represent Jesus well by calling others names. In fact, I would suggest that it sort of indicates that the argument might not have been all that strong in the first place.
Gracious God, debating and disagreeing have been very much a part of the faith traditions of Judaism and Christianity for centuries. Today, as we are passionate about our convictions, let us make room to listen, to offer a healthy critique, to be open to a needed challenge within ourselves, and to always make space for you. You are often discovered amidst the questions and the pondering. Amen.