Inclusive Christianity

Earlier this year Bishop Sutton had diocesan clergy read,Do I Stay Christian? by Brian McLaren.

You may have heard of him. He was raised in the Evangelical tradition of Christianity and over time left that branch to align with a more inclusive form of Christianity. He was also big in the emergent church movement. He has also written over 15 books that deal with inclusivity of all kinds and calling into question (or simply renouncing) simplistic black and white answers that focus more on following rules and punishment than in pursuing God's love of all people.

At various spots in the book he makes some of the following statements:

“I must renounce all forms of Christianity that claim to defend supremacy, privilege, domination, and violence.”

“Nobody is born a religious jerk. It takes a religion to help someone become that way.”

“The Christian community still remains largely ignorant of or in denial about its detestable history of anti-Semitism.”

“When you observe the passion and persistence with which [conservative Christians] speak out against LGBTQ equality, and the nonchalance with which they seek to eradicate abuses of power by their own, you have to wonder.”

There are many other quotable lines in there coming from a place of inclusion and a place of regret in having been part of a system that looks to punish people in the name of God.

As I read the book, it occurred to me that, without knowing it, Brian was quoting from the Book of Common Prayer. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God, not to separate them into the blessed and the damned. All people are created in the image of God, therefore we must love our neighbor as our self. Because all people are created in God's image, we must strive for justice and respect the dignity of every human being.

These things Brian is saying are things that the Episcopal church has been saying for a long time. So it both amuses me and frustrates me that our overall position of inclusivity and equality seems to be generally ignored while someone like Brian McLaren can write about these things and garner a following.

The Episcopal church has been on this bandwagon, as I said, for a long time. We have fought our own internal battles over the full inclusion of women, LGBT people, and minorities. We have come to a place where who you are or how you define yourself is generally less important than whether or not you work to follow Christ, resist evil, and proclaim the Good News of God in Christ.

We have good news to share.

Saint John's Day is Sunday, September 10, and the theme is “Bring a Friend.” You have a week and a half to think about how and whom you will invite to church that day so they can experience here at Saint John's the same thing that Brian McLaren has been writing about – inclusivity and equality are gifts from God.



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