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What should we placard before the world? I’ve forgotten…

A friend of mine is very supportive of my ministry but is passionately opposed to parachurch organisations.  He makes many different arguments, but here's an argument that might persuade me (though I haven't heard him make it)...

If a local church rented advertising space on the side of a bus, what slogans do you think it would run with?

Anything like "Not Gay, Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud.  Get over it"?

I'm not saying they're wrong. I think the reification of 'sexuality' as an unchanging marker of personal identity deeply undermines our humanity.  I think the elimination of choice (such that one in unable to be ex-anything) is akin to Islam's apostasy laws!  I think the ad's censorship betrays the deep intolerance of many so-called liberals.

But, but, but, when those behind the ads say that the controversy was a God-send, I have to wonder whether they're mission lines up with mine (which I hope is Christ's!).

INTERVIEWER: You couldn't buy this level of publicity, now that it's been banned...

REV LYNDA ROSE: We couldn't, one has to wonder whether God is not perhaps active in this. It wasn't our intention to provoke this situation... The publicity is obviously good.  (From Channel 4 News)

Lynda, maybe the publicity's good for you.  Speaking as an evangelist, let me tell you it aint so good from where I'm sitting!

And it just  makes me wonder, who gets to be a spokesperson for Christianity in the world?  The church, right?  But when does the church lose it's voice and get drowned out by interest groups?  Certainly the media can't tell these things apart - and I can't blame them for it.

It seems to me that our public face needs to be a lot more aligned to both Head and body!  Otherwise local churches (and parachurch evangelists!) are going to have to pick up the pieces.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was placarded as crucified. (Galatians 3:1)

12 thoughts on “What should we placard before the world? I’ve forgotten…

  1. theologymnast

    A few points (coming from someone who works for a *parachurch campaigning group*):

    1) I'm supportive of what they're trying to do - though I'm not sure the phrasing was particularly clear/ the execution perfect (where was the website to clarify the meaning? etc.)

    2) Maybe Chris E can clarify his comment, but it seems to me like a massive leap from what the ad says to 'Christianity = moralism'.

    3) The parachurch does these sorts of things because the Church herself fails to speak up on these things and others (week in, week out, from the pulpit, over dinner, at Synod etc.). And parachurch organisations do it imperfectly, for sure. But to paraphrase Moody(?), I like (some of) the parachurch's "speaking up on these issues" more than the Church (as a whole)'s deafening silence on these issues.

    Maybe that wasn't the clearest sentence. But in short, when the Church starts consistently dealing with some of these things we may just see less of a need for parachurch ministries to do it with varying success. The parachurch can only drown out the Church because the Church herself is whispering.

  2. Glen

    Well the world has certainly heard *something* - loud and (not so) clear. It would be quite an achievement to make the gospel heard above *this* din, But let's give it a go.

    (Moody's a funny one to mention - though I understand you're just commandeering the phrasing ;-)

  3. Chris E

    "2) Maybe Chris E can clarify his comment, but it seems to me like a massive leap from what the ad says to ‘Christianity = moralism’."

    I think the whole idea of a 'ex-gay' ministry of this sort is on theologically shaky grounds - especially if you come at things from a Reformed perspective and believe in total depravity/the noetic effects of sin.

    We are all broken in some way, and it seems a leap to assume that one sort of brokenness is more prone to being healed than others. Unless one belives that Christianity is solely about making bad people good and good people better (i.e Christianity = moralism).

  4. theologymnast

    Yeah - not really paraphrasing as much as intentionally misquoting. That's Christian right?

  5. Si Hollett

    To not expect the reaction was naive to say the least.

    I can't help but think that it the ad was engineered (especially given it went with the similar crass style of the original) to try and point out the hypocrisy of people reacting totally differently to two very similar adverts by provoking a reaction. And going for fixed sexuality with ex-gay and sexuality defining us with post-gay (the two are different, though not mutually exclusive, but shouldn't be confused) is certainly going to get you one, given you're taking out two key pillars of the Zeitgeist.

    To be honest, I think that those bringing the Gospel to Britain were going to get the fallout of this, even if the website on the ad (and major backers of the ad) weren't Anglican Mainstream - a far more blatent thing than Lynda on the news. As Christianity is seen almost synonymous with heterodoxy when it comes to the Zeitgeist sexual philosophy, even if completely secular it would be framed as 'religious right' or similar in the papers.

  6. David Baker

    Glen, thanks for this - very much indeed. Your words are wise, and, I have to say, very restrained in the circumstances. I have asked myself the question, which person of the Trinity as revealed in Scripture could I imagine speaking the words portrayed in the ad by Anglican Mainstream? The answer is "not any of them." We proclaim Christ, and we seek to do so certainly with clarity and challenge, but also winsomeness and graciousness. Your words are spot on, and, as I say, much more gracious than my thoughts have been!

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  8. John B

    Whether it's a local church or a parachurch ministry, only the Head of the church is its infallible spokesperson. Local churches run the gamut from leadership by a Fred Phelps to a Gene Robinson. Unless a local church is itself the one true church, or at least a prophetic voice annointed to speak for it, then local churches won't provide any more clarity then parachurch ministries do.

    The church is God's called out people ministering to the world in the name of Jesus. What we term "parachurch" is really "paracongregation". The ministry is within the church, and alongside of the local congregation. The parachurch is a means of uniting congregations for particular ministries that extend beyond the boundaries of the parish.

  9. Glen

    Indeed Si - just call me a sexual heretic :)

    Hi "gay and proud" - I promise you, I'm over it. Just want you to know you're so much more than that. God bless you.

    David - it is indeed unusual for me to be restrained. I must be going soft.

    John - very good points. Perhaps the parachurch/paracongregation thing is a red herring. I just feel that - however such campaigns are organised - there needs to be greater coordination between those in charge of the public face of "Christianity" and those who are regularly engaged in word ministry of evangelism and discipleship.

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