It’s been two months since I left the pastorate. The transition has been more emotional than I anticipated. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m confident that I made the right decision to accept the new ministry position at Pentecostal Theological Seminary. Even so, I find myself suffering grief. After thirty-eight years of pastoring the transition has taught me a few things.
In the Garden of Eden, God provided two trees – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life is the knowledge of God. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is life without the knowledge of God. To eat of the Tree of Life is to acknowledge that humans need God to flourish. To eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is to suggest that we can find our own way. This ancient narrative offers an appropriate way of understanding the affinity for liberal theology.
Various colleagues in ministry have suggested that Christians should not be engaged in culture wars. They insist that culture wars are harming the mission of the church. However, I’ve often noticed that even as they denounce the culture wars, they are compelled to #resist. If they are not culture warriors, what are they resisting? In fact, offering an alternative culture is the mission of the church.
Christians need to initiate a social grace movement. Jesus declared, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me and he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord!” These words have inspired a multitude of social justice movements – abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, right to life movements.
I’ve heard it all my life. “The Civil War was not fought over slavery.” I was NOT taught that in grade school in south Georgia. But I’ve heard it from those seeking to honor the memory of the Confederate States of America. Every time racial strife heats up in the USA I hear this refrain over and over again, “The Civil War was not fought over slavery.” Well let’s look at the ugly truth.
The Civil War rages. A long cultural Cold War seems to be reigniting old prejucides and animosities. Violent extremist on left and right just want to see the world burn. I am a Christian extremist protesting for peace and understanding. I suggest that we listen to the words of wisdom from two old Civil War generals – General U. S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.