Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Things I've Added

As the son of a Baptist pastor, I’m often asked with a raised eyebrow, “How in the world did you become a Methodist minister?” Because I believe that each denomination has gifts to share with the rest of Christianity, I’ll often tell folks that I don’t really feel like I “left” my Baptist roots – I continue to be shaped and inspired by their deep love for Jesus and knowledge of the Bible. Instead, I like to think about my switch to Methodism as “adding” new dimensions to my faith that I’d been searching for. Here are a few of the things that I’ve added; gifts that I’ve come to treasure in my adopted home in the United Methodist Church:

The Journey of Salvation: As a kid, I can remember praying the Sinner’s Prayer so many times (especially after a scary sermon!) that I wasn’t exactly sure when I really “got saved.” Instead of viewing salvation as a single moment in time, United Methodists understand salvation as more of a journey. God saves us by his grace, reaching out in love to the world through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. John Wesley taught that we experience God’s grace in three distinct ways: prevenient grace (inviting us into a relationship), justifying grace (forgiving our sin), and sanctifying grace (helping us grow in holiness). Our response to this gift of love is faith – not only through an initial act of repentance and trust in Jesus – but by the way we live each day. One of my Methodist youth said it best: "I'm not just saved, I'm being saved!"

Interpreting the Bible: There is a bumper sticker that says, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!” Lots of Christians claim that the Bible should be read literally like a modern textbook – but if the Bible’s meaning is so clear, then why are there so many competing interpretations? I love the Bible, but I continue to wrestle with passages that I do not understand. In the United Methodist Church, the Bible is of primary importance, but we read it as part of an ongoing conversation with the Spirit, using the tools of tradition, reason, and experience to interpret difficult passages. When it comes to understanding the Bible, United Methodists have open minds – as Wesley said, “We think and let think unless it strikes at the root of Christianity.”

A Deeper Tradition: Growing up, I’d never heard of Advent, Lent, or the Apostles’ Creed. Then, in college, I fell in love with liturgy in the United Methodist Church. The rhythm of the Church’s calendar began to shape my devotional life, and I found new meaning in the ancient words of the Creeds and the Lord’s Prayer that Christians have held dear for centuries. My baptism and the celebration of Communion also took on new meaning as I came to understand the sacraments as opportunities to meet the living Jesus in the water, bread, and wine. Since Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” children are welcome to be baptized as well as adults. And since Communion is the Lord’s Table (and not ours), everyone is invited to receive Holy Communion.

Social Justice: For most of my early life, Christianity was limited to a personal relationship with Jesus and going to heaven after I died. I didn’t worry too much about the needs of other people, except to pray for their salvation so that they could go to heaven, too. But in the Bible, Jesus doesn’t just forgive peoples’ sins; he heals their bodies. He has compassion on the poor and the sick, and notices people that society ignored. That’s why John Wesley taught his Methodist groups, “there is no religion without social religion” – that yes, the gospel has the power to save souls, but it can also save bodies and transform society. It’s also why United Methodists have such a strong legacy of social justice – of supporting soup kitchens and homeless shelters across America and starting some of the best hospitals and universities in the world.

Ecumenism: Instead of identifying themselves over and against other Christians as the only true church, one of the main things that drew me to United Methodism was their humble claim to be one small part of God’s greater family of faith. Started as a renewal movement and not a separate church, it’s in Methodism’s DNA to work together across denominational lines. John Wesley once wrote to a Roman Catholic, “If we cannot think alike, can we not love alike?” By joining hands with our sisters and brothers in other churches, we can witness to the unity we have in Christ and have a bigger impact for God’s Kingdom in our communities and the world. United Methodists are involved in ecumenical partnerships at the local, state, and national levels as well as on a global scale through the World Methodist Council and the World Council of Churches.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

United in Papertown

This is Papertown, U.S.A.

Last July, I moved to Canton, North Carolina - a town nestled between the mountains just west of Asheville and well known in the region for the paper mill that is the largest employer in the county. Numbering just over 4,000 souls, Canton is a small town. Because of the paper mill, Canton doesn't attract the same number of seasonal tourists that flock to the quaint mountain towns of Waynesville, Black Mountain, or Brevard. Instead, many of the people who call Canton home are folks who grew up here, who have family members who work at or have retired from the mill, who root for the high school football team and march in the Labor Day parade, who see their childhood teachers in the Ingles grocery store, and who run into their neighbors at Sid's on Main restaurant. Since everybody pretty much knows everybody else in Canton, news travels fast and prayer requests travel even faster.

As the Yankee-kid-pastor appointed to serve Central United Methodist Church, you could say that I am a guest in this town. Having grown up in New Jersey - the land of bumper to bumper traffic where your neighbors might wave at you (but it's a different kind of wave!) - I'm still learning a lot about small town Southern life. But after spending almost a year sharing life with these deeply loyal and big hearted folks that I call my friends, I'm convinced that Canton has something to teach the rest of us.

Since I was raised a Baptist, went to school with the Presbyterians, and finally, was ordained by the Methodists, I have a passion for unity in the Church, something I've written about on this blog and in the recently published book, "For Such a Time as This: Young Adults on the Future of the Church." We are constantly being told that our differences are bigger than the things that unite us, a lie from our national politics that has seeped into America's churches. At a time when more of our neighbors are without a spiritual home than ever before, Christians have an opportunity to rally around a common mission to spread the good news of God's love in Jesus through our words and actions. Instead, the evangelical and progressive wings in the Church seem intent on demonizing each other, preferring a political agenda over the Gospel and a church where everyone agrees with them over Jesus's call for us to be one "so that the world will believe."

Not so in Canton. In a place where you know your neighbors, it's hard to demonize those who disagree with you. In a place where you know your neighbors, it's hard to argue about differences while there are school children waiting to be fed. Since moving here in July, I have seen God break down artificial barriers by uniting a loose coalition of churches in prayer and mission. More than ever, I am convinced that this is how God will reconcile his quarreling children. Not with words at the top levels of denominational agencies, but with actions at the grassroots level of local communities. We are not all the same. We are evangelicals and progressives. We are United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Southern Baptists, and Wesleyans. 

But we pray together. We gather for worship on Thanksgiving and Good Friday. On Ash Wednesday, we carry ashes into the streets of the town, offering and receiving prayers for our neighbors.

When the United States teetered on the brink of another war in Syria, we gathered to pray.

And we work together. We share turns at the Community Kitchen, serving the hungry in our town with a hot meal each day. We donate coats to keep our neighbors warm.

When we found out that there were over 15 homeless children at our middle school who go hungry over the weekends, we sprung into action, filling backpacks with food and toiletries for the most vulnerable members of our community.

In a place where you pray and work with your neighbors, it's hard to see them as enemies. This is the gift that the small town has to teach the rest of us. This is the "more excellent way." This is what unity looks like in Papertown, U.S.A.

"I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all."  Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Where Was God?

The following sermon was preached at Covenant and Trinity United Methodist Churches in Gastonia, NC on the Sunday following the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. One year later, we are still being called to overcome evil with good.

Christmas is about children. 
Not just God’s gift born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but the look of joy on children’s faces as they carefully hold a candle on Christmas Eve, set out cookies for Santa, and rip open a present on Christmas morning.  And yet, this Christmas, all of us can’t help but think about 20 little children who won’t be celebrating with their families this year.  We can see their faces, can’t we?  Emilie’s smile that could light up a room.  Ana who loved to listen to her daddy play jazz.  Dylan’s blue eyes and dimples.  Jack, whose first love was football and the New York Giants.  Jessica, who adored anything to do with horses.  Noah’s long eyelashes.  Allison, who liked to color.  Too many names.  Too many sweet and innocent faces.  Charlotte.  Daniel.  Olivia.  Josephine.  Madeleine.  Catherine.  Chase.  Jesse.  Grace.  Caroline.  Avielle.  James.  Benjamin.

Unlike any time I can remember since 9/11, a shadow has fallen over our country.  In between the laughter of parties and music of carols, there are tears as we try to watch or listen to the news.  What is it about Newtown that has affected us so deeply?  In the past year, there have been shootings at a mall, a temple, and a movie theater, not to mention all of the people who are killed every day in violent acts around the world.  I think it’s because in these little children’s faces, we see our own children.  We think about the kids we know in elementary school.  We think about the teachers we know who would do anything to protect the kids in their classes.  And deep down, we are left with an aching sense of injustice; that things should not be this way.  That Christmas should be filled with images of happy children, not tiny coffins.

Between the tears, that aching feeling leads to questions.  For anyone who’s suffered loss, you know what that feels like.  After you cry, you ask, “Why?”  You ask, “Where was God?”
The Sunday after the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, residents of Newtown flocked to the churches and synagogues, just like people did after 9/11, asking those questions, trying to make sense of things, trying to hold on to something in the face of such unimaginable evil.  How can a God who is good and all-powerful allow evil to exist?  Theologians call that the question of “theodicy” – and for centuries, it has been the one question that has presented the most profound challenge not only to Christianity in particular, but to faith in God in general.  Where was God?  Why didn’t God do something to save those kids?

How do we answer that question?  On today of all days, how can we talk and sing about “peace on earth” when the world is anything but peaceful?  Can we say anything at all? 
When something terrible like this happens, you realize that – we are all theologians, not just pastors or seminary professors.  Do you have certain beliefs about God or ways of talking about God to others?  Well, then guess what?  You’re a theologian!  Now, unless you’re into starting your own religion, most of us don’t start from scratch with our understanding of God, do we?  No, much of what we believe has been handed down to us from our parents and our religious community.  For us Christians, what we believe about God comes from the experiences of people over hundreds of years written down in a book we call the Bible.  Still, the Bible can be dangerous in the hands of an individual, can’t it?  If you try hard enough, you can pretty much find a verse in the Bible that you can twist and use to say whatever it is you’re wanting to say.  That’s why we interpret the Bible using our own brain and life experience, but we also stand on the shoulders of wise women and men who have gone before us. 

It’s important that we do this: that we know what the Bible says and we know our own history and language about God, otherwise, in times of tragedy or disaster, we’ll end up borrowing somebody else’s theology.  And the truth is, there are some Christians out there who’ll get in front of a camera or start typing at their computer and say some very wrong, very unbiblical things about God.  We’ve got to be able to recognize those statements for what they are: bad theology.  Lies about God.  We’ve got to call it out when we hear it, in love of course, but otherwise, people might believe the terrible things people are saying about the God we know and love! 

Where was God?

The first lie is this: God wasn’t there at all.
Have you heard this lie?  Maybe you saw a popular post that got passed around on Facebook or saw a video of a politician turned TV commentator saying, basically, “God didn’t show up at Sandy Hook because ‘we kicked God out of public schools’.”  Brothers and sisters, that might make for a catchy one-liner, and I’m all for the religious freedom of all students being protected in our schools, but let’s think about what’s being said there!  Do we think that God’s presence is somehow dictated by something as trivial as whether or not teachers are allowed to start class with a prayer?  As the joke goes, as long as there are pop quizzes and tests and EOGs, there will always be prayers in schools!  Do we honestly think that we can kick out God?  Isn’t the whole message of Christmas that God shows up in the places we least expect – in the womb of a virgin girl, in a cattle trough?  This is the truth that the Bible teaches: God can be wherever God wants to be.  God doesn’t need our invitation or our permission to be anywhere.  What did the prophet Isaiah say the Christ child would be called?  “Emmanuel.”  God with us.  God with us sitting here this morning.  And God with every teacher and every child in Sandy Hook Elementary that day.  God is with us, whether we want him to be or not.

The second lie is even more sinister, though we hear it so often that it sounds true: That God was there, but that this was all part of God’s plan.
The worst version of this lie is put forward by the folks from Westboro Baptist Church, these are the people who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers and threatened to picket the funerals of the children who were killed in Newtown, saying that God killed them to judge America for its sins.  I’m sure that repulses us.  And it should.  These are people who are speaking in the name of our God and we should call this lie out for what it is: blasphemy.  But there is less offensive version that a lot of people say with good intentions: “everything happens for a reason.”  This is often said to make people feel better, I hear people say it all the time, “we’re not supposed to ask questions, we just accept that this was God’s will and one day it will all be explained to us!”  Do we really think that murdering innocent women and children could ever be God’s will?!  That line of thinking leads you to determinism, where we are all just a bunch of puppets and God is the puppet-master, directing our every thought and action.  The problem with determinism is this: if God is responsible for everything that happens, then God is also responsible for evil and sin.  Well, the Bible is clear on that point.  God is holy, God is light, God is love, and in him there is no darkness at all.  God cannot be the source of evil.  God is not some puppet-master, determining our every move.  God did not kill those children as some sort of twisted way to punish the rest of us. 

But then, we’re still left with the question: Where was God?  If God didn’t abandon us, if God didn’t cause this, then why didn’t he stop it from happening?

Are you listening?  Because here’s the biblical answer: God is always with us.  God did not want this to happen.  We did this.  The reality of evil in this world can be traced to our freedom.
God’s greatest gamble was creating us in his image, making us free – which, as Rick Warren has said in the past week, is both a blessing and a curse.  Because in order for us to be able to truly love, we have to have a choice, we have to be able to choose good over evil, to choose love over hate, peace over violence.  Unfortunately, history tells a long story of our choice of the latter option.  Every single evil act in the world can be traced back to the selfish choices of free beings, whether it’s us or Satan and his angels.  I’m not denying that mental illness may have been a factor, only that it is bound up together in a thousand other choices that ended up adding one more chapter in the long, dark history of the human race.

Sometimes, you have to wonder if God ever regrets his decision.  If God ever wishes he had made a bunch of robots that he could force to be good all the time.  In Genesis, you get a picture of that, of God looking at the world Noah lives in and feeling sorry that he ever made us.  Is our freedom worth all of the suffering in this world?  Is it worth the murder of even one child?

You know, today’s story is about Mary.
About a mother.  About a girl who had the freedom to say no, but who said “yes” to God even when she was probably scared out of her mind.  No wonder Elizabeth said, “Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women.”  She represents the good in all of us.  Our ability to choose love.  But do you know what?  Mary knows what it feels like to lose that same child of promise.  To see him murdered.  And so does God.   

Sometimes we forget that, I think.  That God knows what it feels like to lose a child, to feel the sting of tears and the heart break of loss.  God knows the cost of freedom better than any of us.  But listen…and I’ll tell you something true about God.  Some good theology!  God loves us in spite of ourselves.  God loves us with a never-ending love.  In spite of all that we have done, all our brokenness and bad choices, God refuses to give up on us.  God refuses to let evil and violence and murder have the final word.

Where is God?

In the darkness, there shines a light.  In the silence, there is a baby’s cry.  God is in Jesus.  And God is in us.  God is whispering to all his children, even as gunshots ring out overhead, “I will never leave you or forsake you.  Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be with you.  I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” 

You see, God is still at work in the world. 

God was at Sandy Hook Elementary.  God was in the teachers who stretched out their arms to protect the little students they loved so much.  God was in principal and school psychiatrist who ran out into the hallway without a thought for themselves in order to confront the danger. 

God is in the thousands of people across the country who are coming together, in the thousands of people who are flooding Newtown with love, prayers, and support, and in every family this Christmas that remembers to treasure each moment together.

And God is in heaven, where 20 little children were scooped up into the arms of Jesus and welcomed into the everlasting Kingdom. 

Yes, there is evil in the world.  God has not run from it.  God does not cause it.  But God does promise us this: that he will never leave us and that evil will not have the last word.  Like Mary, we are called to cooperate with God; to submit our freedom to his will for us, to choose love, to overcome evil with good, to let peace begin with me.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Love Will Keep Us Together

Most of my family members identify as fundamentalist Christians and political conservatives. As my own religious and political views have evolved over the years, this has made for some lively conversations, especially around the holidays. Back in my college days, it seemed like these discussions regularly ended up in raised voices and ad hominem attacks. Maybe you can relate. Doesn’t everybody have that one annoying family member who always wants to argue? But as time has gone by, I think we’ve found that some of those old arguments have become a bit tired and worn out. After all, how many times can you argue about baptism or gun control? It’s almost as if, without us really knowing it was happening, our different opinions quietly faded into the background, leaving behind the thing that’s been there all along. It’s the thing that makes us a family in the first place. The thing that never goes away: love. And the truth is, when I look around at my family at Easter or Christmas dinner, I’m not thinking about the differences between our churches or the way we vote. I’m thinking: “This is my family. I love these people.”

As a United Methodist, I have a second family – my church. Methodism is my adopted home, a family of faith that took in an argumentative, restless kid with a bunch of questions. The thing that drew me to the Methodist Church, more than anything else, was its embodiment of the quote, “in big things, unity; in small things, diversity; in all things; charity [love]).” In a denomination that counts George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton as members, Methodists know how to agree to disagree. Your typical United Methodist congregation hosts a wide variety of spiritual refugees like myself – from Southern Baptists to religious skeptics, and everything in between. At our best, Methodists leave room for different opinions and focus on the big things we share: our faith in God (summed up in the Apostles’ Creed) and our mission to spread God’s love to the world.

But like all families, we’re not perfect; we still have our fights. And like a lot of other churches over the past few decades, our biggest fights are about human sexuality. Can LGBTQ folks be members of the church? What about in leadership positions? What about as pastors? Should people in loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships be able to get married in the church? Isn’t this about equality? What about what the Bible says? These are the kind of questions that get kicked around in local church Sunday school classes as well as at the United Methodist global conference that clarifies church doctrine and policy every 4 years. Too often, though, these conversations end up in raised voices and ad hominem attacks. Too often, we rally around artificial labels like “reconciling” and “confessing” and forget that we’re talking to and about people – other members of our family. After years of debate, culminating in the rise of the so-called "biblical obedience" movement and high-profile church trials, I have to wonder: aren’t some of these old arguments becoming a bit tired and worn out? Traditional Christian: “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin!” Progressive Christian: “Jesus says to not judge and to love everybody!”

What if, instead of repeating one-liners and looking to score political victories, we actually listened to each other? What if most traditional Methodists really do love and care about their LGBTQ friends and neighbors? What if most progressive Methodists really do love and care about the Bible? Could it be that we’ve forgotten the big things that unite us? Could it be that our real differences come down, not to faithfulness and love, but to interpretation and opinion? Could it be that we’ve not only forgotten how to agree to disagree – but that we’ve also forgotten about the one thing that makes us a family in the first place?

Amid growing calls for divorce, I refuse to choose sides in a Divided Methodist Church. We are a family. Gay and straight. Traditional and progressive. Hillary and Dubya. God is our Parent and we are all sisters and brothers. We need each other. In spite of all of our arguments in the past, my prayer is that one day soon, we’ll discover that all of our differences have quietly faded into the background, leaving behind the thing that’s been there all along. Then we’ll all be able to take a look around the Table and think to ourselves, “This is my family. I love these people.”

“Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why I Am A Mainline Christian (And Not Some Other Kind)

Over the past month or so, there has been a flurry of blog posts and articles in response to Ross Douthat’s piece in the New York Times about Episcopalians and other mainline Protestants, that asks, “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved? 

Once comfortably at the top of American society (the image of President Eisenhower laying the cornerstone for the National Council of Churches’ headquarters comes to mind), the Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists are now a fraction of their former selves.  And while it is true that nearly all churches are in decline these days – including Baptists and Catholics - questions about the future are most pressing for the liberal churches, some of which may literally be facing extinction within a generation.

All kinds of theories have been thrown around over the years to explain this decline, from low birth rates to liberal theology to a post denominational age.  But there is certainly something to Douthat’s suggestion that there are few differences between liberal Christianity and plain old secular liberalism these days - leading many to ask, “why bother going to church at all?”  After decades of pushing for social justice in society – many times being ahead of the curve on things like de-segregation and women’s rights – a lot of liberal Protestants stopped talking about God in any particularly Christian way altogether.  Some even openly advocated abandoning core Christian doctrines like the resurrection.  Now, with fewer distinguishing features and dwindling ranks in the pews, it is more likely that people will listen to liberal NGOs like Amnesty than to liberal churches like the Episcopalians when it comes to matters of social justice. 

Douthat puts the challenge facing mainline Protestants this way:
Today...the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world. Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.
The time has come for mainline or “liberal” Protestants to rediscover their Christian voice in American society.  David Hollinger, a history professor at Berkeley, calls for a resurrection of Harry Fosdick’s old challenge: “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?  Even Douthat admits that "the defining idea of liberal Christianity — that faith should spur social reform as well as personal conversion — has been an immensely positive force in our national life."

Mainline Protestants should be standing in the gap between religious fundamentalists on the one hand and atheism on the other, offering a third way to a disaffected generation of Americans who maintain Protestant values but have abandoned the institutional Church.

Why bother with the Church anymore?  As a young pastor in the mainline, I keep going to church for the same reason any Christian does: to hear and see once more the good news of God’s love and grace.  The good news that God has graciously refused to give up on us by sending us Jesus to show us the way toward peace and hope and eternal life, and by stirring within us as a community of ordinary folks trying to live out what the gracious love of God looks like in our world today.  I keep going to church because I find there the words and the way of life and hope in a world of death and despair.

As a mainline Christian, I am set apart from my atheist and secular friends by this faith in God – Father, Son, and Spirit.  But I am also set apart from fundamentalist Christians in some important ways I live out my faith. 

In other words, why do I bother going to a mainline Protestant church and not some other kind of Christian church?  What makes mainline Christianity worth saving?

Because we believe in God’s love and grace, ours is an ecumenical faith, where we are proud of our distinctive heritage as Protestant Christians, but believe that God’s love and grace are bigger than the things that divide us.  We are all God’s children and so we work to be reconciled to all our sisters and brothers in the same way Jesus has reconciled us to God.  As John Wesley once said, “if your heart beats as my heart, give me your hand.”  That’s why we welcome everyone who loves Christ to celebrate the holy meal of Communion with us.  That’s why we work with other Christians, people of other faiths, and people of no faith in order to bring the world closer to God’s Kingdom of love, justice, and mercy for all.

Because we believe in God’s love and grace, ours is a reforming faith, keeping in mind that it’s the religious people in the Bible who often miss out on what God is doing in the world.  We recognize that God is bigger than our own limited ideas, that human selfishness often clouds our understanding of God, and that God’s gracious actions were recorded in the Bible by ordinary, imperfect people bound by their particular cultural contexts.  That’s why we welcome questions and try to keep an open mind, always ready to reform our beliefs and practices as we grow together in faith guided by God’s Spirit and the tools of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. 

Because we believe in God’s love and grace, ours is an inclusive faith, where in Christ, our differences are no longer seen as reasons to exclude or divide, but as reasons to celebrate the variety of gifts being brought to the whole.  That’s why you’ll find women and people of color serving at every level of leadership in our churches.  It’s also why we work hard to make sure that a diverse variety of people are included in our decision-making processes – instead of allowing power to remain consolidated in the hands of a small group of male clergy.  A commitment to diversity and inclusiveness requires that we do a lot of listening and that we sometimes agree to disagree.

Because we believe in God’s love and grace, ours is a socially active faith, not confined to the intellectual or personal realm, but deeply involved in the difficult and holy task of making God’s love and grace a reality in the world.  We believe the best way to make new followers of Jesus is not to merely talk about God’s love, but to show people what God’s love looks like.  Over the course of our history, we have founded some of the best schools, universities, hospitals, children’s and retirement homes, and humanitarian relief agencies in the country and the world.  Today, we are committed to working for the rights and dignity of all God’s children, until the Kingdom of God has come upon the earth. 

While certain evangelicals or Catholics may share one or more of these commitments, no other Christian tradition in America is as fully ecumenical, reforming, inclusive, and socially active.  With other mainline Protestants, I refuse to give up either on my Christian faith or my commitment to justice and mercy for all people.  We offer a third way for people tired of extremism on both sides, asking a new generation that has wandered far from church, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”