Russell Moore’s, a policy leader of the Southern Baptist Convention who has been critical of Trump, job was threatened this week when denominational leaders didn’t rule out of the option of firing him. As it turned out, after he and Frank Page had a meeting and came to some common conclusions. Whatever. Some of my SBC friends were concerned about this event, so I was paying attention too. As I was watching these other believers engage in what is demonstrably bizarre behavior, I was a little embarrassed. As if I have to speak for the wild behavior of Christians! Sometimes it feels like I do.
I’ve said it before and I have no problem saying it again, Circle of Hope, was elemental to me saving my faith. The common covenant, meaning, and language we apply to Jesus and the Gospel, and that we hold together is what made it possible for me to be a believer.
Ecumenical harmony is something that a lot of Christians deeply desire, especially Protestants (some of whom flirt with portions of Catholicism and Orthodoxy for their semblance of agreement), since we’ve been so fragmented. I think it’s a challenge to have the harmony when we have such basic disagreements about worldview. It’s a challenge to be in a commonly connected community when we do not have the same mission or vision. I think the Bible is clear enough about the “basics” (see Matt. 22 for the Greatest Commandment and Matt. 28 for the Great Commission), but of course all of that is up for debate.
The postmodern marketplace of Christianity with its thousands of denominations is not a surprising result of the increase in postmodern atomization. I think worse than our division is our disagreement. Sometimes Christian disagreement just ends up being an insular dialogue between those “in the family.” To be honest, because of how I found Circle of Hope and how it played an instrumental role in my own faith, I want my dialogue to be focused outwardly. What I’ve been given is the basic task to help people follow Jesus. I want my dialogue, action, and being to be framed in that direction. The hospitality and inclusion that I’ve felt through Circle of Hope is reason enough for me to try to include someone in the movement.
The common mission and vision of Circle of Hope as well as our covenant, gives us a chance to be a common member of the tribe moving toward the same goal. It really helps to have the same basic expression within the larger umbrella of Christianity. It’s a practical thing to do, organize as a church, especially in the philosophical landscape in which we find ourselves. There is safety in commonality and in agreement. There is reliability and accountability found in community and in the covenant. It’s safe. At the heart of our big idea is that we want people looking for Jesus to receive him personally, in the context of a cell or the weekly celebration of Sunday meetings. The cells and the Sunday meetings function at an optimum size, and when they exceed it, they multiply. We want the Gospel to be delivered personally.
The common covenant and the dialogue that keeps us together, and the Holy Spirit who dwells among us, gives us an opportunity to relate, disagree, and move toward mutually following Jesus together without the need for a Magisterium, hierarchy, violence, or “the law.” The lack of commonality in the world is why we have empowered leaders, backed by violence (both in human and legal form). The law of Christ is written on our hearts, and in my opinion, is best expressed in a local context. The one we’re in in Circle of Hope is strategic to our time and place, and we’re progressively and collectively designing it. We’re always moving with what the Spirit is doing next, or at least trying to. You might be an important part of it, and I think we should talk if you think so too.