He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
I grow weary of those that would place themselves in the place of God, deciding who is and who isn’t worthy of the name Christian. A few weeks ago on Twitter, someone from the Christian Chronicle dared to quote a preacher who is on the black list for some in the churches of Christ (and you thought Joe McCarthy was dead). Quickly someone wrote to ask why he and his co-workers were so “besotted with progressives.” (Interestingly enough, this person had also been frequently quoted by the man he was criticizing; was he calling himself a progressive?)
It’s not the first time I’ve seen such criticism aimed at the Chronicle, a publication that attempts the difficult task of covering the broadest possible spectrum within churches of Christ (too broad for some, not broad enough for others). It’s always easier to align yourself with one camp or the other than to attempt to maintain journalistic objectivity.
I’m on an e-mail list on Yahoo of preachers from churches of Christ. Every once in a while, someone will write asking for the name of a “sound” congregation in a certain area. I’ve pressed for a definition of that term on a few occasions, but have only been met with embarrassed silence. No one wants to admit to keeping a McCarthy-like black list, but it exists for many.
A few years ago, someone at the church I was working with gave me a copy of a brotherhood publication. This particular issue was about “Change Agents” (this brother had gotten numerous copies for men in the church). One article had a list of “change agent” churches, institutions, publications, etc. At least that brother was bold enough to make his black list public.
Am I guilty of the same? Probably. I do find myself rolling my eyes at times when I see certain publications or institutions mentioned, but I make an effort to read what I can of what they produce. They are right about some things that I’m not. I don’t even know what they are, but I know that it’s true. There is no one that I can’t learn something from.
I grow impatient with those who would divide the Lord’s church. May I never be guilty of such. There are enough powers in this world that are working against God’s kingdom; we don’t need any internal forces doing the same. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite preachers of the past:
“I never call Christians or others ‘anti’s,’ ‘digressives, ‘ mossbacks,’ ‘tackies,’ or ‘trash.’ I concede to all, and accord to all, the same sincerity and courtesy I claim for myself, as the Golden Rule demands…” T.B. Larimore