by Ted Esler
A joke that I have told many times comes to mind whenever controversial topics are discussed (in fact, my wife rolls her eyes when I begin). Yet, it remains a classic!
It goes like this:
There was a traditional older lady from a conservative church who had lived her life behind the Iron Curtain. Soon after the fall of communism she received, for the first time, a copy of Decision magazine. This faithful saint was getting her first look at pictures of American Christians.
To her absolute horror, she noticed that the women were wearing makeup. Aghast, she flipped through the pages to see mascara, blush and carefully tended hair, piled high and curled! She wailed out, “The scripture teaches us that we are not to adorn ourselves!” as she threw the magazine across the room. She was so crushed in spirit that she began to cry. A big tear rolled down her cheek and dropped right into her…
Of course, back when I first heard this story, not many Evangelicals had taken to drinking beer.
This little story reveals the cultural underpinnings of some deeply held ideas. What is utterly important to us at this point in history is rooted in the time and culture in which it appears. We must learn to understand our own theology in light of this simple truth while embracing the unchanging Gospel. Careful consideration of historic theology is important. There are core truths that Christians have identified and held to since the days of Christ.
Missio Nexus, by definition, can’t represent all of the viewpoints in the community. Some write to me that there are “too many _______ being highlighted” (fill in the blank) or they want me to state “Missio Nexus’ position” on a particular issue. Sometimes they question our selection of a book to be reviewed.
Please keep writing with your concerns and thoughts! We have used material that, in retrospect, I wish we hadn’t. We are fallible and we need you to help us stay on track. It helps me to understand the pulse and heart of our community.
At the same time, remember that we are a broad community of Great Commission agencies and churches. We use the term “broad” for a reason. There are going to be differences. Yet, the center needs to hold around a historic understanding of evangelical orthodoxy with a commitment to the Great Commission.
One hope I have for our community is that we can be a place where different views can come together for discussion and debate without rancor. In fact, if we didn’t do this we could not be the “thought leader” network that we want to be.
So please bring your controversies. Let us reason and pray together. Having this sort of tension can release intellectual and spiritual wrestling that will lead us to closer communion with God’s purposes.
Failure to do so may leave me crying in my beer.