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Source: (consider it) Thread: UK Renewal and Politics
Polly

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quote:
That's easy. Social action does not always equate with social, let alone ecclesiastical inclusion.
Generally I agree this is very true.

quote:
I think a lot of middle-class churches like to have a social action programme, possibly with good intentions, but start having major problems at the prospect of poor and, by middle-class lights, "unsanctified" people becoming fully-fledged church members who are treated just the same as everybody else. There's a lot of tokenism.

The local Vineyard pastor said to me when we begin our Food Bank that we should be prepared for our Church demographics to change.

It's obvious really but we still find its real challenge when it happens in "our" church. This is where I think many middle-class churches wrestle with the challenge because another life reality impacts theirs. I just don't agree that it is tokenism as you suggest.

However we could take any church and throw in another community of people who would challenge life and understanding so it's not just a middle class problem. It's human nature.

quote:
[I'm not saying this is true of Philippa Stroud (I didn't know her well enough to judge), but it was certainly my experience in some quarters of NFI. I well remember one senior leader's disdainful comment on arriving in a French NFI church, "this is a bit of a breadline operation, isn't it"?]
Yes I can relate to this and understand it. This attitude IMHO is still there but very much in and amongst the 'old' guard. It's not there in the younger generations.

quote:
[ETA and to even things up, I wouldn't say Simon Pettit, whose message I was interpreting that night and who I did know personally, was like that at all. And I suspect it was he who, from the hereafter, whispered "remember the poor" in Pope Francis' ear...]
I like the imagery of this. The Petits live in the next village to us. His prophetic word still echoes through NFI today. A sad loss to the church family.
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Heavenly Anarchist
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My NFI church is obviously very middle class, not surprising given the location, but never the less feels to me welcoming to all classes and backgrounds,; it has quite an international flavour and we have strong links with the local council estate. Obviously there are always things that might be improved in any church but I haven't felt that this is generally a problem here. Being from a working class background myself I quite sensitive to church snobbery (I found my class difference very apparent at St Helen's, Bishopsgate and when a friend there used to discuss her local mission work as 'bringing the gospel to the working classes' I used to retort that the reason I did Scripture Union camp was to bring the gospel to the middle classes).
We actually chose our current church because of it's obvious feeling of community, we had no affiliation with NFI but it was the first church we visited after fleeing the sad lack of love in the local parish church and we stayed here as we felt welcome from the word go, despite our rather eccentric lifestyle and my bipolar disorder. I'm not even a charismatic, I consider myself open evo, but this doesn't seem to have been a problem in the 10 years we've been here.
I'm going to have more of a think about how we can be more welcoming though, as it is important. I think regular contact with churches from very different areas helps; I particularly enjoy the visits from the minister from my home town of Luton. Perhaps we need to do more joint work with his church to understand each other better.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
It's obvious really but we still find its real challenge when it happens in "our" church. This is where I think many middle-class churches wrestle with the challenge because another life reality impacts theirs. I just don't agree that it is tokenism as you suggest.

It is more of a challenge when you have a theology that suggests people are supposed to get better, richer, delivered from addictions, etc.

I may sound cynical, but I'm beginning to suspect this "theology" is actually a misnomer for "middle-class lifestyle".

I think the fact that the lifestyles of the socially excluded we welcomed did not change in line with the more extreme aspects of restorationist theology, particularly the "discipling" and "sanctification" bits, was a contributing factor to me being booted out.

It might be a bit unkind of me, but I think the social action of the local, present-day charismatic churches that emerged from the ruins of the NFI one I was leading are tokenist - doing good works, and they are very persevering about doing them, but not at all making their churches really accessible to those people as they are in their churches, unless their lives change in line with their restorationist expectations.

Then again, welcoming the excluded is precisely the ecclesiastical space I enjoy inhabiting [Smile] and it takes all sorts.

Even those imbued with prosperity gospel (mostly) have a bit of Christian charity to spare and presumably believe in "seed faith" and all that, and so give generously to social action programmes - but they prefer to keep them at arm's length. On another continent is even better.

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Barnabas62
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The late Simon Pettit in full cry. Not whispering "Remember the poor".

A good word that. Incidentally, it also shows the dangers of stereotyping preachers and teachers just because they come from a particular church family.

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Heavenly Anarchist
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As someone who had a working class upbringing (and who still gets wound up by class differences as they don't ever really go away), I think the problem is this idea of them and us. Church should be a welcoming place for all people, regardless of background, but instead we see outreach as middle class Christians reaching out to working class people. The church should work with the socially excluded but our aim for our church should be for a community of believers, regardless of class. That is why I find much outreach patronizing, the 'bringing the gospel to the working classes' I mentioned earlier. Any work with the socially excluded needs to be a joint venture on equal terms or it will not be inclusive no matter how hard one tries.

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Polly

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quote:
It is more of a challenge when you have a theology that suggests people are supposed to get better, richer, delivered from addictions, etc.
I would want to separate some of what you say here. The desire within charismatics to see life get better, for healing and deliverance from addiction is not really coupled with the desire to be richer.

This is steeped in the theology of Spiritual Gifts where as the being richer comes from the prosperity gospel and its unfair to taint the one with the other.

However, I'd struggle with some of the theology of always seeking the supernatural intervention of God in every situation. The difference for me is to be attentive to what the Holy Spirit is saying and it's not always in the seeking of the super natural. Sometimes it can be.


quote:
I may sound cynical, but I'm beginning to suspect this "theology" is actually a misnomer for "middle-class lifestyle".
Just a little but made me smile! [Biased]

quote:
It might be a bit unkind of me, but I think the social action of the local, present-day charismatic churches that emerged from the ruins of the NFI one I was leading are tokenist - doing good works, and they are very persevering about doing them, but not at all making their churches really accessible to those people as they are in their churches, unless their lives change in line with their restorationist expectations.
The unkind bit is suggesting only charismatic churches do this. It's a problem any church can face.

@ Heavenly Anarchist

I am really glad you are settled in your church. Both Eutychus and I once went to (different) NFI churches. Both with very different experiences. My family and close friends still go to an NFI church.

From observations the NFI church you go to seems similar to the ones they go to.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
The desire within charismatics to see life get better, for healing and deliverance from addiction is not really coupled with the desire to be richer.

I think the aspiration for healing and deliverance is pretty universal, but that an expectation of it happening and the expectation of becoming richer are both, potentially, outworkings of an over-realised eschatology - which is why I'm singling out charismatics in particular.

In such circumstances, 'tis but one step to blaming the person for whom it doesn't come together for their ills and excluding them as a result. These days I'm much more a simul iustus et peccator man, for which I'm largely indebted to Lamb Chopped along with a few local Luthero-Reformed folks I've met along the way. I'm not quite sure where that puts me politically.

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Barnabas62
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Heavenly Anarchist

Any form of patronising misses the point, really. A slippery slope leading downhill every time.

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Green Mario
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I have friends who unashamedly
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Green Mario
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I can't remember where I was going with that post and seem to have submitted it by mistake....

There seems to be a view here that left-wing is compassionate; right wing is selfish and self-interested when its comes to politics; therefore why would UK charismatics who are more left leaning politically want anything to do with US Christians who are right wing nut-jobs.

As someone whose politics are fairly centralist in the UK context (and therefore pretty left wing compared with mainstream opinion in the US) I would be quite happy to listen to US Christians who I know are more right-wing politically than I am, as well as Christians that are far more left wing politically.


The reason being is that I think in many cases (but not always) the republican supporting default of US Christians (evangelical and charismatic) comes about because of a dislike for big government and the high value placed on individual freedom and also because of a response to certain social issues such as abortion rather than through selfishness and lack of compassion for the poor. I don't think they think the weakest should go to the wall its that they think individuals and churches should help them rather than government. I would disagree because pragmatically I think poor people are better off in European countries than the US which suggests the European model works better but I am not sure that the political difference is always caused by lack of compassion.

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Gamaliel
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Yes, I think there's something in that, Green Mario.

It is easy to take a dualistic right = selfish, left = the good guys ... if one is centrist or moderately lefty.

I also think that Polly's right that all churches potentially suffer from difficulties in dealing with people who differ - in whatever way - from themselves.

I remember a devout Catholic chap I used to work with telling me how he, personally, found it difficult whenever the Gypsies were in town because their form of - to his mind - very grass-roots and superstitious approach, was at variance with his own. They'd come in to get holy water to take home in plastic bottles or fawn and kiss the plaster statues of Saints in a way that the rest of the regular congregation found unseemly.

So, yes, it happens everywhere.

All credit to NFI for changing direction to some extent on this one - although, as I'm rather cynical too, I do wonder whether there's a certain amount of tokenism involved.

But that probably applies right across the board too and isn't something that can be just be levelled at the likes of NFI.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Green Mario:
but I am not sure that the political difference is always caused by lack of compassion.

If it isn't then it is a result of allowing ideology to override compassion.
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Barnabas62
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Green Mario

Quite right. Compassion is not the preserve of the Left, nor are all those who lean to the Left compassionate.

I think a Jim Wallis distinction may help. He observed that the church is often very good at pulling drowning people out of the river (compassion), but rather less good at asking who pushed them in upstream (justice).

Or there is this Catholic Archbishop, a champion of liberation theology, who is well known for an arresting quote (excerpt from the Wiki article)

quote:
Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara was Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, serving from 1964 to 1985 during the military regime of the country.

An advocate of liberation theology, he is remembered for the aphorism, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

Some folks still believe religion and politics shouldn't mix. That's a myth. To quote from Jim Wallis again, the subtitle of his book "God's Politics" is "Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It".

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Some folks still believe religion and politics shouldn't mix. That's a myth.

Yesterday I preached on migration, quoting extensively from the Bible and encouraging folk to think through issues such as this in a Christian way. In the service we had 3 Scripture readings, from Genesis, Deuteronomy and Ephesians, plus a responsive version of Psalm 137.

I heard afterwards that someone said that this was an "inappropriate" subject to have preached on and complained that I hadn't had a "text". I could understand this, perhaps, if we were an Evangelical church, but in fact we're MOTR/Liberal. So I'm puzzled. (Of course, I only heard these comments at second hand, although the person who told me was very much in agreement that I had been right to take this topic!)

[ 27. April 2015, 21:41: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Green Mario:
I can't remember where I was going with that post and seem to have submitted it by mistake....

There seems to be a view here that left-wing is compassionate; right wing is selfish and self-interested when its comes to politics; therefore why would UK charismatics who are more left leaning politically want anything to do with US Christians who are right wing nut-jobs.

As someone whose politics are fairly centralist in the UK context (and therefore pretty left wing compared with mainstream opinion in the US) I would be quite happy to listen to US Christians who I know are more right-wing politically than I am, as well as Christians that are far more left wing politically.


The reason being is that I think in many cases (but not always) the republican supporting default of US Christians (evangelical and charismatic) comes about because of a dislike for big government and the high value placed on individual freedom and also because of a response to certain social issues such as abortion rather than through selfishness and lack of compassion for the poor. I don't think they think the weakest should go to the wall its that they think individuals and churches should help them rather than government. I would disagree because pragmatically I think poor people are better off in European countries than the US which suggests the European model works better but I am not sure that the political difference is always caused by lack of compassion.

May I suggest that, in terms of US evangelicals and fundamentalists, that you consider what it says on the tin. They are generally exceptionalists and believe that the USA has been specially selected by God. Follow the psychopathic rantings of people like John Piper, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson (who is the grand master of the looney parade) and the dualism (perhaps a poison from Calvin?) of their theologies will become more apparent. A large number of US right-wing christians see the misery heaped on the poor as God's righteous judgement of them.

K.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Some folks still believe religion and politics shouldn't mix. That's a myth.

Yesterday I preached on migration, quoting extensively from the Bible and encouraging folk to think through issues such as this in a Christian way. In the service we had 3 Scripture readings, from Genesis, Deuteronomy and Ephesians, plus a responsive version of Psalm 137.

I heard afterwards that someone said that this was an "inappropriate" subject to have preached on and complained that I hadn't had a "text". I could understand this, perhaps, if we were an Evangelical church, but in fact we're MOTR/Liberal. So I'm puzzled. (Of course, I only heard these comments at second hand, although the person who told me was very much in agreement that I had been right to take this topic!)

A very good friend of mine preached an excellent (looking back on it, rather prophetic) sermon in the 1980's about Christian responsibility for the environment. I was visiting his church that morning and heard it. Interestingly, I head Ruth Valerio make some very similar points in another excellent talk I heard just recently. But the environment didn't have that much of a profile in those days and his talk, although well received by many as "fresh, interesting and challenging", actually provoked his minister to berate him for not "preaching the gospel".

Weird, isn't it? Sorry you had that experience, BT, but I'd keep on plugging if I were you! This myth is hard to dispel.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Eutychus
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Mrs Eutychus and I vividly remember Jonathan Lamb fretting about aluminium foil use at Brethren 'cathedral' Belmont Chapel, Exeter in the late 1980s, but our recollection is mainly guilt and little of substance.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Mrs Eutychus and I vividly remember Jonathan Lamb fretting about aluminium foil use at Brethren 'cathedral' Belmont Chapel.

I had to think twice about that. First I thought that you were talking about some strange Brethren "Foil Liturgy" which I'd never heard of!
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Albertus
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The US Evangelicals referred to upthread of course recycle their foil by making it into hats.
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Polly

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@ Baptist Trainfan

I have a small but very mixed cultural church. At the last count there was a dozen different nationalities in our church.

Over the last year I had heard a couple of people (people born outside the UK) make negative statements about immigration.

It threw me at first but last month we did a series on Jesus and politics and focussed on Immigration.

After making the point of recognising the richness of all our cultures and backgrounds I and asking people to look around at each other I then asked the following question:

"If there was an edict tomorrow to send everyone back to their nation of birth how many of us would be left?"

There was a lot of worried faces!!

Ps

The answer was about 5 people!!

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Baptist Trainfan
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Well done, and this points out that many people take different positions on controversial issues when thinking of individuals/situations they know as compared with looking at them in more general terms.

For instance "we need more houses" - but not if they affect the view out of my window. "We need more sites for travellers" - but not if their kids will go to the local school. "We need better bus services" - so long as I won't be penalised for driving my car. Equally, "we're united against gay marriage" - but we really like John and Fred who live next door.

People are so inconsistent - including me and (probably) thee!

[ 28. April 2015, 12:14: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
A large number of US right-wing christians see the misery heaped on the poor as God's righteous judgement of them.

They cannot be bible readers. A good deal of the OT (and NT) prophetic writings point out that if there is any righteous judgment coming from God about the state of the poor, it will be directed at the rich. Which is a goodly part of Jim Wallis's "Why the Right gets it Wrong" critique.

[ 28. April 2015, 16:27: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Polly

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quote:
May I suggest that, in terms of US evangelicals and fundamentalists, that you consider what it says on the tin. They are generally exceptionalists and believe that the USA has been specially selected by God. Follow the psychopathic rantings of people like John Piper, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson (who is the grand master of the looney parade) and the dualism (perhaps a poison from Calvin?) of their theologies will become more apparent. A large number of US right-wing christians see the misery heaped on the poor as God's righteous judgement of them.

K.


Just my opinion but it's a little harsh to bundle Rick Warren in with the others. Warren is much more mainstream in the evangelical world than the likes of Piper etc.
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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
A large number of US right-wing christians see the misery heaped on the poor as God's righteous judgement of them.

They cannot be bible readers. A good deal of the OT (and NT) prophetic writings point out that if there is any righteous judgment coming from God about the state of the poor, it will be directed at the rich. Which is a goodly part of Jim Wallis's "Why the Right gets it Wrong" critique.
Agreed (though I don't believe in prophecy, I like the tone of what you write).

K.

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Barnabas62
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Komensky, Polly

Normally I wouldn't do this because I'm involved in the thread. But the comments about Rick Warren are very strong and look as though they transgress Commandment 7. As you probably know, SoF Admin and ownership are very cautious in interpreting C7. We don't have the money to defend accusations of libel.

So I'm editing out Komensky's comment and Polly's reply, and retaining the content in a less public place in the Ship's archives.

Feel free to raise the general issue in the Styx if you want to, but if you do so remember that C7 restrictions apply there also.

Barnabas62
Purgatory Host

(Both Posts now deleted - B62)

[ 28. April 2015, 22:07: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Polly

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@Barnabas62

The last thing I'd want is to get the Hosts into legal hot water so apologies for my transgressions.

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Komensky
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Understood. If it seems pertinent to discussions, would it be better to link to external URLs?

K.

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Barnabas62
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Komensky

I'll PM you; seems best at least initially, and if you want a more general discussion in the Styx you can do that as well.

Polly

No worries - you asked a good question in the deleted post. It's good for all of us to recognise the risks. Happy to accept your apology for an inadvertent action.

B62
Purg Host

[ 29. April 2015, 09:03: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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