The charge is sometimes made by those who are more in the emerging church mindset that apologetics/discernment ministries are not “missional” or do not embrace the new mission paradigm. I was reminded of this recently while reading an exchange between Rob Bowman, Paul Owen and John Morehead on
STRAIGHT ANSWERS TO FOX’S 21 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MORMON CHURCH (comments 25, 28&29). When asked what that accusation means or if one should request a description on how we would actually be doing things differently the accuser falls back to “You are just involved in Boundary Maintenance.” It rolls off the tongue like a swear word and may feel like a slap in the face. The effect is similar to when the media talks about a religious group they have disdain for and say they are “fundamentalist.” These terms serve as a way to slap back or silence questioners without actually being defined. After all who wants to be regarded as a knuckle dragging non-missional fundamentalist? Sounds like a very bad disease.
Sometimes being offended isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes being emotionally harmed by someone’s rant, or sentiment, or opinion is just what my soul and character needs. How could that be the case you say? Well consider the following exercise that I occasionally engage in. I write about free speech a lot. I defend it daily. I’m writing my dissertation on a defense of speech rights. So frequently I hear people say that as a white Anglo-Saxon protestant male, I’ve never experienced hate speech. Up close. I don’t know how it feels to be thought stupid, wicked, or lumped into one category with “my people.” And they are right. As a general rule, I don’t encounter racism, sexism, etc. on a daily basis. It’s cozy up here in the ivory tower. So every so often I purposely expose myself to offense and ridicule. While I could do just by picking up any article or book by Richard Dawkins, my favorite way of doing this is by looking at sites that sell t-shirts on the internet. Sites like Café Press are filled with page after page of T-shirts making fun of and ridiculing Christians. Here’s the one that is my favorite to get offended by:
The Belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Makes perfect sense.
As this election season heats up, religion is a big issue. Will Romney’s Mormon faith be helpful, harmful or neutral for him as a candidate and as the president, should he win the election? What about Mike Huckabee’s former career as a Baptist minister? How might that affect his decisions as president? If you are a conservative candidate, it seems that your religious affiliation and how that might impact your leadership are fair game in the media.
“Huckabee announces White House bid” was the title of the article by Aaron Sadler at the Arkansas New Bureau on January 29, 2007. Outside of Arkansas not too many took notice. I had suggested to several in the media shortly afterward that they may want to keep an eye on this not very well known Arkansas politician, mostly due to his ties to Bill Gothard. This was pretty much met with a collective yawn. I am not going to get in to the merits or lack thereof with regard to Huckabee’s candidacy and positions. As a religious not-for-profit organization I am not really at liberty to do that and the point of this writing is not really political in nature but rather to ask some questions. According to several former employees from the late 1970s era Bill had a landing strip built at his 3,000 acre Big Bear lodge retreat in the Northwoods and he had it built to accommodate Air Force 1. I am told that he indicated God had told him that one day presidents to come to him and he wanted to be prepared. Will this happen in the near future? Well, if Bill has his way it may. It is not difficult to believe. as we pointed out in our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life that Gothard often claims special revelation and mystical understandings of Scripture from God.
There is probably not a week that goes by that I don’t receive an email or note contending that it is wrong to name names when dealing with false teaching. A recent email began:
It took me a few minutes to realize that I was on a website operated by a group that claims to be Christian. How could you claim to be a Christian and write the things you do?”