October 6, 2007

Church and this war

With apologies to our favorite and respected resident blog pastor, this critique of how many pastors approached the last 7 years:
I know about the pressures placed on ministers. Every parishioner has his or her own definition of what a minister should be, and no one can live up to them all. Most preachers are nice people who are, according to William Willimon, "quivering masses of availability."

But the gospel demands more--the proclamation of the Kingdom of God that runs counter to the world presented to us by the rich and powerful.

The church in the United States seems more concerned with success than faithfulness. Following Jesus can be harmful to business. It can split a church or separate families. So pastors often cower when faced with the possibility of costly discipleship.

Many pastors felt helpless when faced with the force of patriotism before the Iraq war. They knew that Jesus taught nonviolence, but fear and excitement caused by 9/11 made it very difficult to speak up for peace. Considering their own jobs and comfort zones rather than the call of the gospel or the consequences to others, many preachers remained silent, while others used our Lord's name in calling people to arms.


Tony said...

I wouldn't disagree with this article; matter of fact, its pretty close to accurate.

I admit, I struggle with this kind of stuff. It makes me question my own call to the ministry, because most people dislike me simply because of the title.

And yeah--I have cowered before costly discipleship. I have not spoken up when I should have. Things are a lot different though when ministry is your livelihood and you have five children to care for.

I wish I knew the answer to that one. It makes me long for other work simply so that I can follow Jesus, even when there is a greater cost exacted, one that the folks I serve wouldn't then vote with their feet and my family wouldn't be jeopardized.

The article stated that preachers are what's wrong with the world. He's probably right. But this kind of stuff they don't teach in seminary.

Streak said...


Remember, the guy who wrote this is also a pastor, so I think he understands. I think most of us do. I think the issue you raise about needing to care for your kids is a very real and legitimate issue, btw.

Really, I see this as less a critique of pastors than a critique of churches in that people often go to a particular church for reasons different than they tell themselves. Many, I suspect, want to feel their beliefs reinforced and repeated and reflected back on them, more than they want to be challenged by any actual theology.

Like I said in the post and previously, I think you are the one person here who is universally respected.

Tony said...

I am sure he understands--probably all too well. Some of the same concerns I have probably sparked his thinking for that article. But I do wish there was an answer to the Catch 22.

I suspect that you are right in your assessment. Even most pastors do not want their beliefs challenged--or even questioned. Comfort and complacency is the rule for American conservative Christianity.

the one person here who is universally respected.

I appreciate that; I really do. I have taken off from blogging for a bit. After being ignored a few times and run down on a couple of other blogs for points that really aren't that significant, I tire of always proving cases to closed-minded Southern Baptists.

In an email exchange with selahV I told her I longed for a conversation with Streak because at least he wants to really dialogue and discover any given side to a particular issue.

I find it amazing that I receive more respect for my beliefs here than I do at those who ought to be my closest compatriots. Absolutely amazing. For that, I owe you and your readers a debt of gratitude.

Streak said...

Tony, you are always welcome here. We probably swear more than your SBC buddies, but I do think we usually engage with civility. Except for Ubub, of course. :)

ubub said...

Dammit Streak, I am too civil! As well. Also. Or something. Not that I am overly or excessively civil, mind you, just that I try to engage others in a respectful fashion. That.

Perhaps it might also be said that I might swear more than your average SBC pastor, but I think I might have learned at least some of those words in confirmation class. Damn liberal UCC.