Vision Team Blog

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Great discussion!

Thanks for the great discussion the other night on the Bible. I thought you all had a lot of good things to say about it. I was especially glad to see that we're all pretty much on the same page in regards to approaching the Bible with humility, being willing to question our assumptions, and being open to letting the Bible question and challenge us as well, without trying to tame or explain away all the difficult things in the Bible. As both Matt and Steve pointed out, there are certain things that we hold to as our essentials, those things that define us as Christ followers that we can't always be questioning. On some of those things we come to a point of simply taking that leap of faith and saying, "Even without absolute certainty I choose to believe and live accordingly." However I'm also glad that we were all sensitive to people who will still struggle and question even our essentials, and want to make room for those discussions as well. I especially appreciated what Matt and Josh both said about needing to really listen to people who look at the Bible through completely different lenses than we do - e.g. atheists, agnostics, etc. - and really respecting their opinions, learning from them, and engaging them in constructive dialogue.

So thanks for a good talk. If anyone has further thoughts about what we talked about the other night, feel free to post them here. And remember, next Vision Team Meeting we'll be brainstorming together with Monaca's help all of our values, those top things our ideal church has to have. And then I'll take what we come up with and rework our values statements to incorporate all of our shared ideas.

Oh, and don't forget that at Core Gathering this coming Saturday we'll be having a time of sharing "God Things" which could be testimonies or prayer requests, or it could be a song or poem or reading or scripture that is meaningful to you that you want to share with the group. So please give it some thought and come prepared with something to share.


  • Was reviewing some old emails and came across this BreakPoint commentary that was on topic. I would have just included a link but it requires registration (albeit free) to view the archives.

    'The Unpaid Bills of the Church'
    Wicca's Charm
    October 31, 2005

    "Imagine losing all your friends at once," a woman named Margaret Ann told Catherine Edwards Sanders, the author of Wicca's Charm. Margaret Ann was talking about her decision to leave her Baptist faith and become a Wiccan during her college years. "My family ganged up on me and refused to discuss it with me at all," she recalls.

    Sanders adds, "All of her friends, except one, deserted her. Not one of the members of the Christian group [on campus] bothered to ask why she liked Wicca. … Other Christian students would only talk to her to tell her that they were praying for her."

    At another point in the book, Sanders tells the story of what happened to a group of Wiccans in Orange County. As they were practicing a sunrise ritual, a group of Christians surrounded the Wiccans with their cars and blared loud Christian rock music at them.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    To begin with, we need to understand that Wicca and its power are real. Marketers of popular kids' books and TV programs about Wicca told Sanders that it's all fake and something kids do just for fun. But as both current and former Wiccans report, Wicca is a real, powerful, and dangerous thing. Laura, a high school student, told Sanders that she "had a very bad experience" during a Wiccan ritual and is now "haunted by a scary presence." Kathleen and Paula, two former Wiccans, also report "negative experiences too frightening to describe." Others have similar accounts.

    So it's hardly surprising that we Christians would perceive Wicca as a threat. But is it right for us then to turn our backs on Wiccans, or to treat them offensively? What good can that possibly do? That kind of behavior has never been known to win anyone to Christ—on the contrary, it only turns people away.

    As I said Friday, Sanders writes that many Wiccans were driven to their religion in the first place by the actions of Christians—like some women who were treated like "second-class citizens" in their churches, and turned to Wicca. Art Lindsley of the C. S. Lewis Institute says that Wicca and other forms of neo-Paganism are a result of "the unpaid bills of the church." The Church is supposed to be a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Our whole worldview is built on the idea of a loving God who created every person in His own image. When we fail to put that worldview into practice, people lose interest in Christianity. Many of them go off in search of a religion built on self-fulfillment, not love of God—a religion like Wicca.

    So how should we as Christians reach out to Wiccans? For one thing, we can take time to study and understand what they believe and the issues that are really important to them—issues like the environment. We don't have to worship the earth to understand why many Wiccans are so concerned about it. But even more importantly, we must live out our own worldview through our actions, treating all people with love and respect. He whom you would change, remember, you must first love, as Martin Luther King, Jr., taught us. And if we do this, we will start paying some of those unpaid bills ourselves.

    Copyright (c) 2005 Prison Fellowship

    By Blogger WarePhreak Wyncoop, at 7:55 PM  

  • Being rather green myself, I've found it hard to stomach some of the attitudes I've come across in the church. "God gave us the earth to use" "Don't worry, there will be a new heaven and new earth" "Animals don't go to heaven so who cares"

    I also admit to some un-Christian like leanings - like wondering if our new earth will be God making us clean up the mess we've made (can you tell I'm a Mom?); believing animals have souls and the redemption of the earth will include the talking donkey (does that mean we'd face someone we ate? Ick!); and believing the second time around we'll get it right (not be stuck listening to muzak harps).

    Yeah, I'm weird and I know it.

    By Blogger Charlotte Wyncoop, at 8:36 PM  

  • Great stuff Matt! Thanks for sharing that. I like what he has to say about the "unpaid bills of the church". I think it's very true that many people who turn to Wicca do so because of their concern for important and true things that the church has largely neglected, such as respect and care for the natural world or greater respect for women.

    My only critique is that I'd be careful in calling Wicca "dangerous". In as far as it taps into real spiritual powers, I suppose there is danger. However, phrasing it this way can lead to the wrong assumption that practicers of Wicca are themselves dangerous (in the same way we might call a violent criminal dangerous?) We should be careful about using language that sets up people of other religions to be feared and opposed by us. Of course, the rest of the article makes exactly this point, so in context the statement that Wicca is "dangerous" isn't quite so bad.

    Or look at it another way... it might be equally true to say that Christianity, as it is often practiced by some Christians, is likewise "dangerous" (and not in a good way). For example, the kind of Christianity that leads people to murder gay teenagers or bomb abortion clinics. Far more than Wicca (which lives by a creed of "do no harm"), this kind of religion is what I would call "dangerous".

    But on the whole I really appreciated what this column had to say. Thanks for sharing, it's a good reminder to us to approach people of different faiths with a humility and willingness to listen to their perspectives as we demonstrate the truth to them through our love.

    By Blogger Mike Clawson, at 8:37 PM  

  • I don't see what's un-Christian about any of those things Char! :)

    By Blogger Mike Clawson, at 8:39 PM  

  • How about non-traditional?

    By Blogger Charlotte Wyncoop, at 9:45 AM  

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