Many of you know that each week, on Monday, a weekly article which reflects on leadership, the church and Christ’s mission is sent to several thousand subscribers. This article is longer than my daily blogs. It often represents ideas I am pondering that will be turned into books as time passes and people respond. A new series begins tomorrow. If you are not a subscriber check out back issues and sign up for regular mailings at the ACT 3 website.
During the last few months of 2010 I wrote a series on the danger of ideology to the mission of the church. I am convinced that this danger is very real and very serious. But far too few of our leaders recognize it and even fewer prepare people to actually deal with it. In my final article I wrote about the danger of ideology, pro and con, in a democracy like that America. A longtime friend, who is a big supporter of me and my work, wrote the following response to this article. I share it because it shows the kind of helpful thinking that some readers make when they read this kind of material.
One of the differences in our perspectives is [may be] this. You seem to speak of a concern for erosion "away from" a supposed ideology that was more consistent with Biblical morality. My conviction has been for a long time that that was never the case in American history even from the beginning. The best that we have ever had, which is a plus in the area of common grace/ or what we pray for regarding our government, is exactly why enlightened men have been willing to settle for civil religion. And this has always been a part of that commonality which is required in a democracy- or, in other words, The American Story. I called it the American Myth recently in conversing with my son [who is in the active military in a combat zone] and he objected until I carefully explained my use of 'myth' as a genre, not something that is always untrue. I consider the Biblical Narrative to be the great TRUE myth. I honestly don't think we're in danger of moving away from this myth. In fact it is being manipulated very carefully by both government and civil leaders in an amazing way to keep the majority of our democratic populace on board.
What grieves me most is that the conservative, evangelical churches don't seem to understand how this works in America and instead are still trying to rally Christians to take the country back to some supposed "christian" past. I don't believe any amount of trying to convince them they are wrong will have any affect. That is why I decided to stay out of these cultural battles for the most part and do what I believed every faithful minister of Christ is called to do. Preach and teach while living and modeling the whole Gospel of Christ: preach Christ and seek to live the crucified/risen life of a branch vitally united to The True Vine of God on earth. That is why your fellowship in missional ecumenism is so precious to me and others, especially in America.
The year before us (2011) looks to be intense in all the different ideologies represented in our American context. I take your ACT 3 Weekly to then be a prophetic call to the churches to be more diligent than ever to "make their calling and election" certain as a priority, and that includes the element of our unity in One, Holy, Apostolic, and Catholic, body.
From this response you can see how much readers help me to think and write better. This brother has served me in untold ways and his voice was very much in the background of my book, Your Church Is Too Small.