Inclusion and Division

Many read and comment on this blog who are interested in church growth.  That is the audience for today’s post.

Fascinating to read the challenges and changes facing the Catholic Church.  And the amazing part … simply change the names and you have the same contentious “script” that many Protestant churches are moving through.  And what are the main issues embedded in that script?  It seems the seminal issues appearing again and again include the role of women, divorce, homosexuality, concern for the poor and the environment, and the role of clergy.

These are clearly heated, contentious issues argued with great vigor by those desiring a more inclusive church and those desiring a more traditional church.   Given that rawness, civil dialog comes hard and at times appears impossible.

So what is the solution? The way forward?

I would imagine there is no one solution.  I imagine this is a tension we will live with in the upcoming years, not a problem we will quickly solve.  Likewise this inescapable tension will gather more “steam” so to speak as numerous churches experience continued decline. (Only 6% of churches experienced growth last year)

My hope is that respect … even through gritted teeth! … reigns.  Both sides claim to be stewards of the Christian message.  Both center on God.  On God’s Word.

My belief is that a more inclusive model is being born.  My prayer is that it remains inclusive.  Inclusive of many of the groups noted before. And inclusive of those who see the world and the future of Church differently – traditional and progressive.  As one priest noted in regard to welcoming back divorced parishioners to communion…

Everyone is trying to find a solution, putting together concern for the institution of marriage, and compassion to people in difficulty.  We just have to find a way to put these two together. 

A beautiful statement.  A meaning underneath the words that echoes a third way.

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “Inclusion and Division”

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  2. Dean Hudson says:

    I’m having difficulty reconciling this view of “inclusion” with all the writings teach regarding “profanation”. Please clarify…

  3. Joseph Sarracino says:

    WITH “SO GREAT FAITH”, THE ROOTS GO DEEPER, NOT JUST WIDER.

    “And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” Matt 8:7-8

    Here, it appears inclusion was present, but was held at bay (or at the circumference) with the life of the centurion (or outsider); not desiring or wanting anything of “his household” (or life) to soil as it were, the Church. The Rorschach test here I think, in light of inclusion, speaks its loudest not in entitlement, but in unassertive humility for those who seek spiritual asylum in earth, in hope that it’s mutuality abides also in the heavens.

    These issues as many others should be held before the “mirror” so as to see if they reflect a commensurate message with the Doctrine of the Lord. My point is, that if I was the one needing inclusion, my first thoughts would be (for myself) to not want to be ‘included’ at the expense of weakening the roots.

    “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    “Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.” Matt. 8:10-13. ‘This’, is the operation of yielding to the providence of the Lord, in matters such as these. And let the proverbial chips fall. :-)

  4. Tom Kopera says:

    Do we want a smaller purer church or a larger more inclusive church? Do we choose justice or do we choose mercy? These two questions are hard for an individual or a church to answer. Perhaps we should consider the answer to the following question first: What would Jesus want us to do as members of a Christian community?

  5. Chuck.Blair says:

    Dean – that is a great question. We clearly do have to be on guard regarding profanation. And my 2 cents … maybe the greatest profanation stems from our desire to rapidly sort people into two piles of “who is in” vs. “who is out.” There are times, as you imply, where we need to make clear stands. And with a smile, I have loved this quote for years … “God saves more people than we would.”

  6. Chuck.Blair says:

    Tom – I think that is spot. WWJD sounds trite I imagine … but it is true! It is what we need to do. For me in taking that approach tends to clarify pretty darn quickly.

  7. Chuck.Blair says:

    Joseph – one of the things that has struck me about Christ’s messager recently is how consistently he just moves on, so to speak, leaving the crowds behind. Your comment on “letting the chips fall where they may” brings it to mind.

    He says/ does his thing and then moves on. Letting people hold it as they will. Quite a model of humility!

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