Wednesday, October 04, 2006

tough questions 2

I’m going to struggle to write this post and, to not only “vocalize” the questions in my own head, but also to identify the questions that should even be asked in relation to the topic. But if I were to try and summarize the questions that are rolling around in my head today, I would do it with just this one; Is it possible to reform politely?

Can an organization change slowly, or will a slow change lose those who would actually bring about that change?

When an organization’s system and structure are “set in the stones of time” (I stole that line from a guy named Davidson Walton), and so many within its ranks actually make up that foundation, can an organization change without some rebellion?

Can an organization experience wide sweeping changes without losing people?

Can wide sweeping changes be brought about in an organization without people who are willing to risk it all to see those changes brought about?

For those who believe in the need for change, should their loyalty lie with the organization, or with the philosophy that is calling on change? Now, that one will be translated poorly by many, so let me be more specific: Is there any place for “loyalty” when it comes to any one denomination, or should our loyalty be to Jesus and the church at large? Is it even appropriate to suggest that our loyalty rests with any one denomination or even local body?

I think many of us who wish for change in our church assume that it can happen simply by voicing our displeasure within the safety of like minded friends. Many also are counting on the ability to outlast those who want things to remain the same. After all, we will most likely live longer than they will. But will there be anything left by the time that power has been relinquished?

While it may appear that I already have my own personal beliefs concerning the above questions, I am sincerely seeking other’s wisdom and experience. Do we have anything to go on here? Do we know of other examples where entire organizations or denominations experienced successful, wide sweeping changes?

Comments on "tough questions 2"


Blogger Chris said ... (11:27 PM) : 

I just completed a cadet review form that has a section on loyalty:

Identification with the Army, in Principle and in practice for the present and the future.

My response to this was:

A phrase I often use is ‘we are warriors in the army of Salvation, and soldiers in The Salvation Army’. My first loyalty is to my God. My second is to His chosen vessel for me, The Salvation Army. My calling is to bring people into a knowledge of, and into a relationship with God. As long as this remains my calling, and as long as The Salvation Army remains God’s chosen vessel for me, I will remain within this vessel. I readily identify myself with The Salvation Army, proud to call myself a soldier.

Mind you... in the space at the end of the form for 'other comments' I wrote 'A soldier who does not fight has no right to call themselves so. So I will fight!.'
Not entirely sure that's what they were looking for... But never mind :P


Blogger by the bay said ... (1:30 PM) : 

I think you are asking a question here about non-violent change. This is one of the deepest questions we ever ask, and it brings us to the brink of our faith, our endurance, and our confidence and hope in God. But one can work for change non-violently in a very powerful way.

But non-violence means that any change we work for is borne out of a deep listening to one another - otherwise we do each other violence by shouting above each other with competing voices for what we think should happen. And that ends up in division, chaos and conflict, rather than an emerging positive transformation.

Loyalty surely means speaking the truth in love. It does not mean an unhealthy, co-dependent compliance with an organisation that has an issue or issues that need to be addressed. BUT we need to be extremely careful, and rightly cautious, about the conclusions we come to about what changes are needed and why. To charge ahead without dialogue and heartsearching together is to fail to treat one another with reverence, and kindness. The quiet voices need to be heard along with the louder ones, and the leaders with the led. Hurried, 'reactive' changes usually create more problems than they solve.

The heart, for me, is reverence. That reverence for God and others means listening to what others are saying about what change they feel is necessary, when and why. It means our leaders (I hope you are out there reading this) giving us genuine opportunities to share together what we are concerned about and troubled by in our church. Reverence also means we listen to their wisdom in turn - and understand that they have their own frustrations, and their own dreams of the church they wish to see shine out the face of Christ.

From the process of careful, caring, listening; of dreaming together, of facing painful truths together, we will see emerge a way forward which the whole community can take. It needs to be framed in confidence and hope for a community to have the courage to take paths of change.

This is why I feel energetically advocating for good conflict process will open up the way, rather than taking a confrontational path.

I believe absolutely, totally, that our churches can move forward, and that there is no limit to what God can do - we cannot even imagine what he can do. I believe the non-violent ways in which we can advocate for peace and justice in all our communities, church and secular, can be creative, healing, imaginative, joyous, strong, full of laughter, liberating, and utterly unstoppable. In the church they can be done in ways that build and affirm our positive message to the world, rather than undermining it.

We can build or destroy. Do you want to be part of a church rebuilt through anger? I don't. I want to be part of a church built thoughtfully, with utter integrity, with mutual respect, and with creative reflection on what comes next.

May the grace of God, and his loving smile, be seen in all the body of Christ, and may our leaders be blessed with the creativity and courage to find ways forward.

Eleanor n/TSSF


Blogger Larry said ... (2:01 AM) : 

By the bay makes a powerful statement about a church changed by anger. I don't want ot be part of that either, but I do believe that change hurts, becuase our comfort is lost and power is surrendered. Vulnerability in leadership can be painful for many.

With all this talk of change and it needing to be sweeping, I have seen lttle talk of the Holy Spirit breaking in to make it happen. I am praying for a fresh visitation of the Spirit's power which will lead us to the change we need, because love and not the need to be in charge will rule the day.


Blogger Bret said ... (2:54 AM) : 

You’ve raised some good questions . . .

I think we need to offer specific solutions to the problems . . . it’s one thing to point out a problem, it’s another entirely to offer a solution. Our challenges are very complex. I have been working on formulating “solutions” so as to develop a plan for several years now. But for every idea that could “fix” a problem creates three other problems because the issues are so complex.

I think that what we are trying to do could be compared to someone trying to interpret a language that doesn’t exist. Eventually, the language will come into being as a result of the interpretations that are being made.

I don’t know if that makes sense or not . . . .

Great post.




Blogger Tim said ... (10:49 AM) : 


Am I a pagan for saying that the “what about the Holy Spirit” card, is the vague and easy way out?

Here’s what I always struggle with when it comes to that card. There’s no doubt that the Holy Spirit has the power to perform miracles, bring people to their knees and, ultimately, bring revival. But doesn’t that usually happen after people have opened themselves up to the Spirit somehow? In fact, in my experience, adults often have to go through some sort of catastrophe before they’re desperate enough for the Spirit to work in their lives, which is probably why revivals usually start with young people.

In addition to that, are you suggesting that the Spirit would not work through a reformer? I mean, couldn’t the reformer be the Holy Spirit in action?


Blogger Larry said ... (3:39 PM) : 


First, the Holy Spirit is not a "card" to be played. I think that really is trivializing talk about him. Yes, the Spirit can work through reformers. Through history though the Holy Spirit shows that He works not through anger but through the prophetic word. This at times can be tough, but is never unkind.

The fact is the Word indicates that the Spirit moves where and how He wants. What you seem to be advocating is that you have a prescribed way that the Holy Spirit "ought" to move. He moves many times on people who are NOT open to Him. He uses people in spite of themselves.

I think what is missing here is that change is hard work. It is Spirit-driven. Yes, His change is borne sometimes out of our frustration, but it also comes from our complete and utter dependence on Him. I think to be a reformer one needs to be formed in grace and The Spirit does that.

After all, wouldn't we be just as bad as those who block change if we stampede them? Sure I am frustrated by much of the system. You know I have stuck my neck on the line. Our past experience together will remind you of this. I have learned though that it is better for the Spirit to pave the way. I don't think there is a quick fix for any of this. I also know that there will be an appropriate time, if we work through prayer and the Spirit when change will happen. We will see it.

This is a long, rambling answer. I believe that there are more ways to confront this issue than by writing letters. That is one way, for sure. I wonder when the last time was that anyone used their "reformer" spirit to actually talk to one of the people who we feel is holding back revival? Maybe the Spirit will give us opportunity to speak the truth IN LOVE.


Blogger Tim said ... (4:15 PM) : 


I’m not sure that I agree that prophets have always spoken “kindly”. I guess it depends on your definition of the word “unkind”, but I have a feeling that the Israelites did not take very “kindly” to Amos’ words or any of the rest of the prophets for that matter. Also, I’m pretty sure that I completely disagree with the notion that the Holy Spirit never speaks through anger and that, therefore, a prophet never speaks in anger. How do you figure?

If I suggested that the Holy Spirit moves in a “prescribed” way, let me “unsubscribe” to that theory, because I definitely do not believe that. However, we’re both looking at and quoting history here, so let’s admit that the Holy Spirit most often moves through people who are desperate for him to move.

“After all, wouldn't we be just as bad as those who block change if we stampede them?”

I think that’s my question as well. Would we? I mean, when the prophets called the children of Israel back to their original call, they didn’t ask them to progress slowly. They asked for urgent and immediate change. And isn’t that, in many ways, what we’re asking of our own church? To be willing to do whatever it takes to reach the last and the least? To put the needs of the lost ahead of their own needs? To boldly go where no man has ever…sorry, got carried away there. But you get what I’m saying.

I’ll say again, I’m truly not sitting here with an answer in my pocket. I’m sincerely wondering these things. Does God expect us to pamper Christians into meeting the needs of the lost? Or would he bless us moving on without them?


Blogger Sean said ... (4:22 PM) : 

on issues of the spirit. I agree with both Larry and Tim. The spirit should lay the path, but the church must be willing to follow hard after christ, and I don't think you are in disagreement in the spirit's power or role, but rather the role of those burdened with the desire for change.

The original question though was... are ther instances of slow intentional change happening painlessly. My un-experienced opinion is NO. There are always body bags. Look at major changes in corporations, there are always job losses, hurt feelings, and broken allegience. Look at the the civilrights movement in the US, it was a huge culture-shift that necessitated people willing to stand and cause some problems.

And within the church, every few hundred years in every church subculture there is a painful and necessary change built on the shoulders of people who take action.

There is a natural progression for religious communities to start with developing traditions and rules that are focussed on accountability and building the church and then to put too much faith in their traditions as opposed to God's word. This happened clearly in the catholic church from start to reformation. This also happened in Israel. THe pharisees weren't wrong because they followed the law so well. They were wrong because they put so much stock in the nitty gritty extras they had put into the law over the years to insure holiness, that they missed CHrist.

Jesus confronted church leaders. Martin Luther wrote a blog. John Edwards spoke power through the spirit dictating change. Wesley, Whitfield...William Booth, were all given a vision for reform, for change and a return to GOd's original word and idea for the Church, and all did it in the face of some kind religious resistance to change or straight persecution.

NO, I do not think that you could truly have change and a full return to unified, biblically focussed ministry without some body bags. Call me a pessamist or not a soldier, but bring on the fire. "send the fire" if you will because only when churches (individual communities and the body "big C") are tested by fire, will they radiate Christ.


Blogger JoJo said ... (7:35 PM) : 

A few thoughts and no answers.
I think the Spirit nearly always works through anger. Just about every prophet opens with God's words of rage. Scary stuff if it's being shouted at you but deserved when God has been really clear about how He wants His people to live and His people are fully ignoring it.
Just like I think a conversation about whether or not the Holy Spirit should or shouldn't lead the way and what that leading should look like is, in this particular situation, purely academic as I'm pretty sure He has. God wants His people to be reconciled to one another. God wants His church to be a Church that champions justice. The Holy Spirit is always going to lead us into a place of justice, truthfulness, accountability and right relationship. When we're not in that place we need to go to that place. And maybe now we're finally angry enough to start walking down that path that the Spirit has always had marked out for the church.


Blogger Larry said ... (1:50 AM) : 

Jojo and tim,

You keep talking about words of anger being shouted by the prophets. I think history has proven that they were not motivated by their frustration, but by the Spirit. When all we do is use anger, we are not people of grace. The context the whole counsel of scripture is one of reconciliation. While we can debate with leaders, anger is not the answer. What we do is play in to the hands of those with whom we are dealing. WE will be shut down or worse yet ignored. Anger is never the answer for Christians.

In our anger we give Satan a foothold and in so doing we defeat the very change we want to see happen.


Blogger lucy AR said ... (5:54 AM) : 

Just a little unkind random Pick n Mix...

Amos 1:4
I will send fire upon the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.

Amos 6.11
For the LORD has given the command, and he will smash the great house into pieces and the small house into bits.

Jeremiah 5:6
Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.

Isaiah 14:22
"I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland;
I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,"
declares the LORD Almighty.


Blogger lucy AR said ... (6:02 AM) : 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Blogger lucy AR said ... (6:04 AM) : 

So the Prophets spoke with anger. They had to create a space for people to see the reality of a situation and allow them to see the death closing in.

They did this because they had a vision of true hope, of how God wanted things to be.

It is hard to read a book without transferring every bit to your own situation eh? I just finished Bruggemans Prophetic Imagination (a great read) and every second im Like YEAH! WAHOO! I KNOOOW!!!

Seriously though, there was really food for thought about this whole Army thing.

I think we need to have a real think about the Army and it's future. We need to have spaces where this can honestly be reflected on. Hopefully we will come to a space, like the prophets, where a new vision is created, one of hope. But before we can call everyone to this new alternative vision of hope and liberation, we need to grieve and announce the death of the old thing.

But even before these two things I think the period of real deep thinking needs to be done by those who want change.

I think....!! Sorry if that wasn't very articulate, it's tea time.

Oh, Hey Larry and JoJo etc- why do you call the Holy Spirit a He?


Blogger Tim said ... (9:38 AM) : 


It’s a good thing that you think of debate as a good thing. : )

Matthew 3:7
“But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”

I use this verse because I just happened to read it this past week. We all know that Jesus spoke very sharply to the religious leaders of that day, but it’s easy to sometimes write that off because He was God and God can speak anyway he wants to. But, as Lucy pointed out, the prophets also spoke very sharply. You can call it anything you want, but I believe that they were absolutely frustrated and very angry that people were (1) failing to love God, and (2) failing to love each other. And, in the above verse, John not only calls them a “brood of vipers” in front of a crowd of people, but almost sounds disappointed that they escaped the coming wrath!

People have debated for (no doubt) centuries over whether Jesus was angry when he knocked over the tables. I believe we argue that one because we do not understand what holy anger is. In my own childhood denomination, we liked to pretend that Jesus didn’t actually drink wine. We thought drinking was a sin and the idea of Jesus drinking wine sort of messed that belief up. So we explained it away by suggesting that it was actually grape juice that Jesus drank and that the language of that day would describe anything coming from grapes as wine. But you know what? That wasn’t true was it? Jesus really drank wine.

I feel the same way about the whole “was Jesus really angry issue”. We hate to think of it as anger because we do not understand “holy anger”, but I think it’s pretty clear that Jesus and every single one of the prophets were angry when they came delivering their messages. And remember, there’s a difference between anger and bitterness.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:58 PM) : 

If we look at most of the biblical leaders that were de-throwned (is that how you spell it?), not many went with just a quiet word in their ear. Most, if not all got that quiet word then promtly ignored it. As i think is the case in issues seen in TSA at the moment.

I think Tim is right in that anger isn't intrinsically unjust, or unholy. When anger starts from a place of selfishness, then yes, it's wrong, but when it comes from Love, it is good and righteous. Anger doesnt equate to violence, but it often requires steadfast approach, to stand up for the injustice seen. Shouting loudly is often the only way forward.

I think the Holy Spirit was sent to work through people, She/He was sent to give people God's authority and strength etc. I believe God is paving the way with some of these conversations, that are Spirit led. If we think God will do things on His own then we are truly out of touch with our God who most of all wants to be relationship with us.


Blogger surrendered said ... (11:52 PM) : 

no comments yet. plenty of questions and ideas, though. just one answer, to Lucy Ar, about calling Holy Spirit a He...

i can't speak for them, but it's probably just because the Greek uses the masculine pronoun when referring to Holy Spirit (i.e., "But the Holy Spirit, when he comes, will convict the world... etc.")

Tim, talked fondly of you this weekend with Steve Bussey and others. Hope you are doing ok.

grace, bro.


Blogger HS said ... (4:46 AM) : 

"I think we need to have a real think about the Army and it's future. We need to have spaces where this can honestly be reflected on."

This has been one of the difficulties of the Army structure for quite some time - we've played at having this kind of space through things like D and T OAC (officer's advisory commissions) which no longer exist in my territory, and a couple of national Forums that invited officers and soldiers to participate in a public discussion of certain issues (probably in the 80's).
But for the most part, our structure and system doesn't give much space for honest and, yes, vulnerable interaction. Wondering if a modeling on the grassroots level (corps) would begin to open a way for that to happen on other levels?
As for your original questions, Tim, is it possible to reform politely? If by politely you mean by being cultured and refined, I don't think that's a biblical imperative. The imperative is to speak the truth in love.

You ask: Can wide sweeping changes be brought about in an organization without people who are willing to risk it all to see those changes brought about?
From a perspective of nearly 30 years of SA officership, I just don't see wide sweeping changes happening. It seems as though there is a life to the organization that has little to do with the people in it. Regardless of who the General is, wide-scale changes cannot occur without dismantling systems, and those in power have too much to lose to allow that to happen. Gowan's comment on officer marriage is a classic example - paraphrasing, he said that even though there is no biblical mandate or direction that officers need to be married to officers, it has worked, so we won't change it. Consider the same argument with:
-appointments (lack of self-determination)
-power without accountability
-unpaid labor of married women (in US)
-spending choices

We are in an organizational culture where it is dangerous to have a prophetic voice, as Chick Yuill has known for quite some time. Putting aside any of the personal issues between the parties involved, it has played out in a situation where systemically, power is held in a very few positions (general, TC, DC, corps officer), and the person in that position (on each level) has the ability to say, it's my way or the highway.
I come to the end of the day recognizing that the larger system has some serious problems, and that while I have the responsibility to speak as I can to the larger issues, I still can work in the local setting to make those changes that will model my understanding of Kingdom values.


Blogger Larry said ... (7:56 PM) : 

There you go Tim.....The difference between anger and bitterness, may have formed the issue a bit better. I think it comes down to that. The issue is simply that. I do not believe though that many are capale of separating the two. If we really got down to it, most of the people who are decryin the whole situation and are railing on line are bitter. Am I upset, yes. Am I bitter, maybe a little, until such time that the bitterness can subside, structures will not be dismantled, because we will never engage in constructive only destructive dialog.

As to "the brood of vipers comment" by John the Baptist, and Jesus turning over tables were not their comments more about the Kingdom than their frustration with the system?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:48 PM) : 

Larry, isn't it truer to say that without action anger is more likely to turn into bitterness? In general i dont believe bitterness disappears with time, i think it increases. Normally that increase can be attributed to a lack of action, be that verbal or physical.

I would also say that i feel many if not most people are able to separate anger from bitterness, they are really two different emotions. Maybe we should also be careful in saying that all who are decrying the situation are bitter. I simply think that is untrue, and a large generalisation. I am angry at what has happened but i really feel no bitterness, though i feel that if nothing is done then that anger could turn to bitterness. I get the sense that the majority of people commenting on this site are seeking justice and are asking questions about what they can do to be heard. That's why this discussion is so helpful.

You also mention that there is a difference between the systems we see before us and the Kingdom. My understanding of the Kingdom and its values would suggest that any organisation representing God and the Kingdom, should aim for it's systems to be Kingdom like. The Kingdom is the 'here and now' not just the future. If we as Soldiers or members of The Salvation Army represent an organisation that doesn't reflect Kingdom values then we might as well go and fight the good fight for our local football club.


Blogger Tim said ... (11:53 PM) : 

"As to 'the brood of vipers comment' by John the Baptist, and Jesus turning over tables, were not their comments more about the Kingdom than their frustration with the system?"

I'm not sure they were. I mean, I guess in Jesus' case they definitely were. But I'm not sure that it would be fair to suggest that any of the prophets weren't absolutely "frustrated with the system". I'm not even sure that some of them weren't a little bit bitter. Don't get me wrong, ultimately it has to be about the kingdom. But we are human and I'm not sure that “passion for the kingdom” and “frustration with the system” have to remain totally exclusive. In fact, I’m not even sure that Jesus wasn’t “frustrated with the system” himself. Furthermore, I wouldn’t call “brood of vipers” constructive dialogue.

I guess the other thing that needs to be verbalized here is this; what chance will those of us at the bottom ever have to engage in “constructive dialogue” unless we stir the pot enough to get our leaders out from behind their desks and out listening to the people’s concerns?

Moses, Amos, Isaiah, Jesus, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr. All leaders who engaged in very confrontational styles of dialogue.


Blogger Graeme Smith said ... (9:53 AM) : 

Tim, I really don't know how else we at the bottom can get those above us to reason. I believe that the dialogue that is going on is being listened to, but I'm not sure how effective it will be.

A subject that is deep on my heart at the moment is persecution. Time and time again over the last couple of weeks this subject has come up in my reading, my study and conversations.

In particular I've been re-reading the experiences of the early church in Acts. Here we see those who were speaking a new way being imprisoned and even martyred, yet the fledgling church responded in the only way it could.

They prayed and then got on with being the people God called them to be!

It could be said that we are seeing people both martyred and imprisoned at the moment because they were advocating doing away with the old. Just like then I think we should respond in the same way.

We should pray and then get on with being the type of people God wants us to be!

This might be seen by some as a cop-out and I understand that view. However, the majority of early day Christians fought against the structures in this way. It was only the select few who were called to speak out verbally against the structures. At the same time, each time these were placed in prison the followers of the way came together to pray. When people were martyred God raised up new voices to carry on the fight.

God does not call us all to the same ministry, yet He does call us all. In this situation there will be prophetic voices who must stand up if that is what God is calling them to do, but at the same time have to accept that not all are called to do the same thing. The rest simply need to pray that God will do His will.


Blogger Tim said ... (10:36 AM) : 

I couldn’t disagree more Graeme.

To suggest that the early Christians simply “prayed and God on with being the people God called them to be” is to leave out the fact that God had called them to be world changers, and that’s exactly who they “got on being”. These people laid down their historical cultures to take on new identities, often eating meat that before would have been off limits and even recognizing uncircumcised people as being in obedience. Many of them sold everything and gave it for this new movement’s work. And many more were killed over their new found faith.

Throughout history, those who sought to bring about change never did it alone and those who joined them usually paid a high price. Those who agreed with Martin Luther’s view of the church didn’t just pray about it, they sacrificed it all and left the safety of the mainstream church. Those who wanted equal rights in America didn’t just pray about it, they went and parked themselves at lunch counters all over America.

On the opposite side of that coin is the story of Elijah, the kind of prophet that you speak of. Elijah goes up on Mt. Carmel and calls down fire from heaven, humiliating the priests of Baal and Ashura. What do the people do? Nothing. And so Elijah goes into hiding.

No. A prophet’s voice is not enough. The people must ultimately act on what that prophet is saying. It’s never enough for one man to stand against injustice. We all must have the courage to do so or that injustice will go forever unchecked.


Blogger Graeme Smith said ... (11:18 AM) : 

I phrased my last sentence badly, Tim.

Simply to pray is not enough, which why I said earlier that those not called to the up front prophet role are called to pray and get on with being the people God wanted them to be.

This is exactly what you are saying!

Just as everyone was not called to be a Martin Luther, those who followed him did pray and got on with being the people God called them to be!

I'm just worried that there are voices at this time saying that we must all stand up and raise our voices. That we must all be Martin Luther's or Stephen's or whoever else you can think of. This simply isn't true as God calls different people to different roles in the fight!


Blogger lucy AR said ... (3:58 AM) : 

At ACC In Australia a few weeks ago, one of the oficers challenged us all about creating a safe space for prophets to speak. Too often in the Army the people with significant stuff to say are shut up/down very quickly.

I agree, Graeme, with what you say about praying hard for the situations and the getting on with it (presenting alternative values in action is so important, eh?)
but I actually do think that normal people do need to stick up for the prophets. Sure thing, not everyone is called to rant and rave - be it in prophetic and inspiring Martin Luther King style or not!- but surely everyone who has a sense of right or wrong is called to stick up for someone who they believe has been wronged/ is saying something that needs to be heard?
So, for example, it would take a Salvationist mere moments to write an honest email about the dissapointment in the circumstances that resulted in Chick Yuils Resignation. Moments. This isn't the prophets domain, really. Its just ordinary people who hope in a better future, praying, getting on with it and spending a one hour to point out an injustice.

It is a sad thing when creating awareness of injustice, talking about it, airing veiws on it is preservered only for The Prophet.


Blogger Graeme Smith said ... (9:32 AM) : 

I do understand that and I agree that people need to write letters about the way some have been treated. However, some of the language in this debate is almost of open rebellion.

Some are proud that they have moved away from the Army's traditional stance on things like the Eucharist and Baptism. They proudly flaunt the fact that they are bucking the system and basically don't care what leadership think about it, because they know they are right and the leaders are wrong. How is this attitude different from the complaints about that are being made about leaders ignoring the issues being raised by some?

I have prayed long and hard over this. Chick has been a great influence to me over the years and I am hurting inside because of the injustice that has been handed down. But I believe passionately that The Salvation Army is bigger than either Chick or the General.

Chick says he holds no bitterness in his heart towards anyone and I'd much rather follow his lead that I believe is of God, than one that seems to include bitterness. I've been there before and don't want to return.

There is a big difference between anger fuelled by bitterness and resentment of a system, than there is of one fuelled by God's heart of justice!


Blogger Tim said ... (11:40 AM) : 

Graeme and others,

I agree that there is a line that must be drawn in the sand between holy anger and bitterness, and also agree that the human race has had a hard time drawing that line. There’s no doubt that, in this specific situation, we continue that struggle and, if Chick has indeed been able to draw that line, that is one more reason for me to respect the heck out of him. That is our struggle and we must continue to pray and strive for a pure heart in this area.

The flip side of that coin is the demand for justice. Bitterness or not, the current lack of accountability in our denomination is unjust and inappropriate. It is un-Christ like. It reflects nothing about the Biblical model for church (Paul called Peter out in a very public letter) and we aren’t wrong for saying that. Furthermore, a church full of people who are unwilling to stand up and point out injustice in our own congregation is exactly what has gotten us to where we’re at today, a bunch of sparsely occupied buildings with flags and pictures of our history on the wall.

Having said both of those things, I do think that we need both voices to be a part of this dialogue. One reminding us of the need for justice, and one reminding us to remain pure in heart even while we fight that injustice.


Blogger Graeme Smith said ... (12:42 PM) : 


I fully agree that we must hold our leaders to account and at the same time we must remain accountable.

It is good and healthy to have the discussion we are, and if this could be modelled at higher echelons then things will improve.

One thing I would say is that there are some good leaders far higher up than we at the bottom of the pile. Having heard two or three things in the last few days about some of them I do believe in the process. Will there be a change in leadership attitudes from the dialogue? I've no idea! I pray there will be!

However, whatever happens over the next few years, in the meantime I will be working for the essentials! I will constantly call people to seek God's will in everything they do and only to act in ways that bring glory to Him.

In 12 months time I will be back in England, hopefully in the Training College, so that I can bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and train them to be his devoted followers.

God bless you Tim, and keep fighting for the right!


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