My imagined interrogation after last night’s post

(I sit on a stool in a darkened room, spotlights shining in my eyes.)

Evangeline Orthodox: “Your previous post on being Christ Centered sounds awfully relativistic. Don’t you believe in absolute truth?”

Me: “Yes. Yes I do.”

Ms. Orthodox: “Don’t you believe the bible to be given to us by God, not just written by human authors?”

Me: “I do believe that.”

Farris See: “You didn’t use the words inspired, or inerrant, or literally true, or only authoritative and objective Word of God.”

Me: “No, I did not.”

Mr. See: “Do you or do you not accept those words?”

Me: “Well, I would be willing to take the one which comes closest to actually being used by the bible about itself…I’ll take inspired. God-breathed. Uniquely accepted by the gathered church as clearly coming from the heart, mind, and spirit of God, and completely effective to bring change in individuals and gathered communities. It gives us everything we need to know to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”

Ms. Ortho: “You didn’t talk about sin, or our separation from God, or our complete need for Jesus.”

Me: “Uh, actually, yes I did.”

(confused) Ms. Ortho: “I don’t see those words anywhere in what you wrote?!”

Me: “No. I didn’t use those words.”

Mr. See: “So, you claim to believe these things, yet you didn’t say them.”

Me: “That’s correct.”

(exasperated) Ms. Ortho and Mr. See: “WHY NOT?!?!”

Me: “Because it wasn’t titled ‘What I believe as a Christ Centered Quaker’, but “Why I choose to identify as a Christ Centered Quaker.”

Mr. See: “Semantics!”

Me: “No, audience.”

Ms. Ortho: “Excuse me?”

Me: “I was trying to say, to people who don’t assume a Christian or even a theistic position, why I choose to make Jesus a big deal. Can you turn those lights off yet?”

Mr. See: “NO! You’re still on the hot seat. Why wouldn’t you, given the fact that you say you KNOW your supposed audience to deny Christianity…”

Me: “Hey, I didn’t say that. I said they don’t assume it.”

Mr. See: “Stop playing word games with me!”

(muttering) Me: “I thought that’s what you were doing.”

Mr. See: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Listen, I’ll try to use your language for awhile. What we’re really arguing about here is apologetics. I don’t understand why so many Evangelicals have felt it necessary or helpful to attempt to win people over to our way of thinking by beginning with stating our beliefs. Apologetics via orthodoxy (no offense intended, Ms. Ortho) cannot cross the huge, skeptical, relativistic divide. Most people in America have heard our beliefs, but they don’t know why those beliefs are valuable or relevant or helpful.”

Ms. Ortho: “So, you just want to gloss over what is most important to us?”

Me: “No, not at all. I’d rather do apologetics via narrative theology.”

Mr. See: “What?”

Me: “I’d rather raise the question of Jesus by finding the ways my story connects with God’s story. That way, I have to look at my life, and see where it is and isn’t conforming to the image of Christ. I have to get good at listening to the living voice of God. I have to know God’s story and God’s voice, which fortunately isn’t all that hard to do, because God wants to be known and is a pretty amazing story teller.”

Ms. Ortho: “I hear a lot of ‘me’s’ and ‘I’s’ in that. Don’t you care about them?”

(sigh) Me: “I’m running out of energy for this. Look, I believe Jesus himself wants to be known. Not facts about him, but he honestly and truly is constantly revealing himself to the world in a personal and relatable way. I believe that I can find connections between my story and the biblical story because Jesus is so active. It’s like we Quakers say, ‘All of life is sacramental.’ And I believe God is constantly at work in all people around the world, and that the apologetic or evangelistic task is not to convince others of a particular belief system, but to introduce others to a living relationship with Jesus Christ, alive and active. I believe one way to do that is to name my own experiences, and how they connect with the God-story revealed in the bible. I believe we can also, as we build relationships and earn the right to be heard, help others to see how their experiences and encounters with the divine correspond to the Jesus-story as revealed in the bible. The place I want to get to in my own life is to not just notice the connections, but to let the Jesus-story as revealed in the bible actually shape and define and enrich MY story. That’s the theological basis for what I began to do in the previous post. Is this interrogation over?”

Ortho & See: “For now. But we’ll be back…”

7 thoughts on “My imagined interrogation after last night’s post

  1. Hi Gregg,
    Wonderful post. One thing I appreciate about blogs is that they are inherently narrative–just like the gospels for that matter. We should know that the best way of introducing Jesus is to share His work in our lives. Being one of those East Coast flaky liberals, I can confirm that incessant stating of beliefs does not get over the divide. Perhaps the greatest evil in the church has been those who have lived in open opposition to the gospel message while flying its banner high. History gives us plenty of reasons to distrust “Christianity.” We will break through the stereotypes only with a humility, honesty and love that approaches Jesus’s.

    So is this what your annual job review looks like? You Evangelicals Friends ARE hard-core!


  2. Oh Martin, that’s not the annual review that’s just the monthly pastor’s report. In Newberg, the annual review is much harder. During the annual review they chain the pastor up with 100 years of yearly meeting minutes and then throw you into Tilikum Lake. The pure, of course sink and the guilty float. If you bob like a cork they tow you to shore, unbind you, and then ship you off to FUM. If you sink the elders walk out on the water to the spot where you went down, pray you up, raise you from the dead and then make you be pastor for another year!


  3. Y’all are wonderful. Thank you, Martin and Peterson, for reading and affirming. May Jesus live in and through you. Peggy, you ought to know better than that: our YM was founded in 1893, so it’s up to 113 years of minutes now, and when Terri gets done this fall with these sessions, it’ll be 114. 🙂

    In all seriousness, Newberg Friends elders are nothing like this. I did title it IMAGINED interrogation. I thought it might be a funny way to say some things that are quite important to me.


  4. Gregg,

    I’m taking my time with catching up with blog-reading, now that I’m back from Iowa Conservative sessions. I feel like this post is a nice, humorous warm-up for me before I put aside time to delve more fully into your previous post.

    Liz, The Good Raised Up


  5. Wow. That was so …alive. Beautiful Freaking amazing. I’m not quite there spiritually myself but i think i understand your perspective. Great writing.


  6. Pingback: #tbt Why I identify as a Christ-centered Quaker | Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising…

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