Love and Hate in the news.
I have seen a lot of items in the news that give me real pause. I want to share a few of these links that have really got my brain percolating.
I am not going to do these in chronological order that I saw them, but more in order of amount of content that needs to process (at least as near as I can tell.)
As many of you know, there was a supremely large earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan, and killed people as far away as California(!!). Immediately the internet sprang to life with response to this human crisis. World vision, Red Cross, UMCOR etc even Apple got something going.
Then I heard some comparisons of the size of the earthquake to other recent ones, and someone mentioned Haiti. And among the things I recall about Haiti one that stuck out was the small handful of people that came out to pronounce this as God’s will for the Haitian people. Or maybe more correctly their just punishment. I didnt figure that any national leader would come out and do the same thing here.
Desparately Seeking Media
But it was not long before a freind of mine posted this link:
Clearly not representative of the vast majority of Christians (IMO) but yet that is what that media channel had decided to cover. Do they have an agenda? Yes. Is it pro-Christian? I think certainly not. So there is this media narritive out there that Christians promote hate and intolerance. And in this isolated example, certain media outlets will go out of their way to highlight the extremists.
Another common media darling is the Westboro Baptist Church, who recently won the right to protest at military funerals. They came to where I live, Arlington TX recently and arrived with a force of, according to the paper 10-12 people composed almost entirely of the immediate family of the pastor there. That same week we had Charles Harrison come and give a talk to the teenagers of our youth group and a couple of neighboring churches, to discuss how the next generation can lead for Jesus. We had more than 10 times the youth there that were at the protests. Which one made the paper?
I also saw this post which is an interview with the person responsible for “Christian Nightmares” website, which I thought was another attention seeking anti-christian play, which it partially is, however what struck me most was not the site itself, but the vivid portrayal of how the Gospel was presented to him. I have not been to a church quite like the one he describes and I dont know how much dramatic license he is taking, but it really made me shake my head.
Is it Love vs. Hate? Is it Justice vs. Grace? Is it a cage match?
All of these articles all seemed to join together and fuse in my head. And the connection while there didn’t really make itself clear until last night.
So it seems timely that the new Rob Bell book and all of its controversey happened this last week or two. If you haven’t watched the webcast that he did, I think it is worth a view.
The reviews are as expected many and wide ranging. Here are two that I think cover the range pretty well:
Pangea blog response.
Gospel Coallition (pre)response.
So it seems that we are of a divided mind as a community, are we to spread God’s love, or warn of God’s wrath? Is this a real choice or an artificial one?
Tension vs. Certainty
I think that the Judgement vs Grace is the wrong discussion, to that end let me add one more link.
This is an almost year old address regarding the tension built into the constitution. It is from a graduation address by David Souter. In it he outlines the inherint conflicts set up, intentionally within the constitution, and that these create a balancing act, that utimately mave move and flex, but are not fixed. Example If I have the right to freedom, and you have the right to freedom, what happens when my freedom to pursuit of happiness comes into conflict with your right to free speech (See Westboro above). What happens when a mothers right to life conflicts with a Fetus? What happens when my right to life comes into conflict with anothers right to bear arms? His point is that these are not easy, precisely because both parties are promised something, and they can’t exist togther. The job of judgement therefore is hard, and has to be case by case, and occasionally a standard once expressed gets changed as the balance needs restoration.
So my thoughts on this are that we are not talking about Love vs. Hate, or that Love Wins and Judgement loses. But I think that the balance between Judgement and Grace is out of balance in the way we communicate who God is and who Jesus is.