I'm going to probably upset a few people with this entry and i guess sometimes you gotta do it. For all of my walk with God i have classed myself as Evangelical, I'm a proclaimer of the good news, a born again fundamentalist with reasonable leanings. So its with some sadness that yesterday i found out that Steve Chalke and Oasis trust have been removed from the evangelical alliance. Now this was heart breaking for myself on a number of levels, but thats another day. What has become apparent now to me is that whether you call yourself, fundamentalist, liberal, conservative, or just plain weird, you have to stay within the confines of the label you wear, and don't you dare move away from it. All of my christian life i have struggled with church, i have struggled with its systems, its idiocy, its stubbornness to move forward, because we are holding onto the past, and in truth it sucks big time. You see i was never comfortable with being a Christian, i was never part of the in crowd, but i became the go to guy if you needed brutal honesty. Sometimes churches accepted what was said with grace, other times i was asked to apologise for what i said (yes really) My formative years of faith where in a hardline Pentecostal church, then into Methodism where i seemed to find some sort of fit for my faith. The problem is i despair and weep at times over what the church does and what Christians do, more time spent in committees, more time arguing over that semi colon in Timothy, more time denying the God of the Bible, and questioning whether or not the Bible is literal or not, whether it was written by monkeys or a spaceman. If I'm going to be brutally honest I'm thinking of throwing in the towel, just upping sticks and saying "stuff it" you see all i ever wanted from my faith was acceptance, acceptance from God which i got in spades, and acceptance from Christians, which has never been fully functional or fully coming from certain parts. The church should be a place where everybody feels safe, where everybody feels welcome and in all honesty its not. Christians have difficulty accepting each others diverse views, so what chance have we really got with dealing with the views of other outside of the church.
Over the years i have been fortunate to have met some incredible people, they have challenged me, nurtured me, helped me and saved me from myself, some have been Christians others have been as unbelieving as you could ever imagine. What that has taught me over the years is that all views count even if i don't like them, even if we disagree at least we know our voice counts. The exclusion of Oasis from the Evangelical Alliance is a step to far for me, its a step that says "if you do not agree completely you aint coming in" which is wrong wrong wrong. We should be able to accommodate creationists alongside those who think differently. Those who hold to male headship and those who don't, just when did sexuality become the defining factor on inclusion, when did my sexuality become an issue because it flipping well should not be, when other things are never seen as definitive.
Tomorrow being May 4th i take my last service on the preaching plan, as i have after praying long and hard realised i need to take a step back and stand down. Part of this is due to ill health,part not being able to fulfil the study side of local preaching, and not wanting to get stuck in a rut. Its taken me nearly a year to reach this decision, and I'm some what sad but excited about the future. My ministry has taken me to some different and funky places (baptising a new convert in an oil drum at the Glastonbury festival) was one of the great highlights, met weird and wonderful people and enabled me to see a whole lot of life and acceptance.
Be at peace people, be with grace, be love.