I’m always semi-amused to observe the bias floating back and forth in various communities, and nowhere is this more evident than in the American church. Of course, I’m presenting my bias in what follows, but at least I admit it.
Often, what I view as the “left” doesn’t admit they are biased. They simply present their view as if it were pristine wisdom from on high, in sharp contrast to the brutish, primitive views of “the fundies.” In any event, a recent blog post from Scot McKnight caught my eye (although guest blogger Steve Norman was taking McKnight’s slot that day at Patheos).
Norman wrote this (titled, “Peacemaking, the Gospel and Churches”): “I don’t know a single local church pastor who doesn’t believe in peacemaking. After all, the angels celebrating Jesus’s birth come right out and sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’ (Luke 2:14). Jesus himself champions the role of peacemaker in his Sermon on the Mount and, let’s be honest, nobody’s going to challenge Jesus’s direct words there.
“And yet, there is a clear gap between U.S. church leaders’ stated support of biblical peacemaking and our actual pursuit of peacemaking in our ministry initiatives,” Norman continues. “I recently conducted a research project that collected data from 15 pastors in personal interviews and 297 pastors through an online survey. Their feedback on this issue was almost unanimous: ‘Yes, I affirm the theory of peacemaking as a biblical value. No, it’s not something our church is currently doing. Honestly, we’d have no idea where to start if we wanted to.’”
Norman then goes on to chide those pastors who don’t jump on the peacemaking wagon: “Therein lies the rub. Pastors get stuck believing peacemaking is an elective; in truth, it is the very heartbeat of the gospel. Jesus’s declaration of kingdom invites us to experience, receive, and promote peace with God, with our enemies, among our broken families, and between warring tribes and nations.”
He then says that peacemaking is “the core of the gospel message.”
It is? Is it, really?
I thought the gospel was about the reconciliation of sinful people with the Creator. When did it become a social gospel, left-wing agenda?
And we need to define what is meant by peacemaking. One can plausibly assume it means what Jim Wallis or Brian McLaren say it means, which is oddly similar to the worldview of hippies, political social engineers, and other religious leftists. “Peacemaking” is a nice sentiment, usually, but it’s hardly an endeavor with which to bully hardworking pastors across the national landscape, most of whom are trying to shepherd as best they know how. Many are bi-vocational and don’t have access to the travel and administrative budgets of megachurch leaders who manifest narcissism by browbeating through piety.
McKnight & friends, those in the so-called “Emergent” community, routinely marginalize rank-and-file Bible believers (“fundies” to the religious cocktail party crowd). Chiding them for not engaging in peacemaking is just another manifestation of arrogance from the left.
Imagine this: These poor pastors – preparing sermons while also counseling couples with disintegrating marriages, and perhaps calling a repairman to check the church’s heat pump – are expected to also spend quality time discussing/implementing strategies to engage in vague “peacemaking.” What does that mean, being a signatory to the latest Israel-bashing letter sent to the president? Marching for nuclear disarmament? Running a 5K for the oppressed in Sierra Leone?
Leave these non-celebrity pastors alone, guys. Let them continue to faithfully guide their flocks. Stand aside as they minister to families and preach the real gospel.
Leave them in peace.