Sunday, July 29, 2012

How the Christian Church in America Set Mr. Cathy Up To Fail

"I make little account of victory. Nothing is so stupid as to vanquish; the real glory is to convince." Grantaire in Les Miserable by Victor Hugo.

The controversy surrounding Mr. Cathy and Chik-Fil-A may not be all his own doing. While I believe he is his own man and can make his own decisions, I do not think his world view was developed in a vacuum. No, instead, his actions and the turmoil caused by his comments were shaped in him by the one influence in his life that he sought out to provide him support, community, direction, and peace. The current situation is the result of a disease in the American Christian Church.
There is a reason why Protestantism is called Protestantism. There is a reason why in a small county of say 8,000 people in western Arkansas there are 95 Baptist Churches. There is a reason why in even the smallest of towns there is a 1st Baptist Church, a 2nd Baptist Church or a 1st United Methodist, a 1st Pentecostal, and so on. It is because for the entirety of its existence the Protestant Church has been founded upon the principle of "protestation". When we disagree, we start our own thing in protest. Or we become ugly and cause separation. It is entirely possible that the split in churches that caused 2nd Baptist Church was not 2nd Baptist Church' fault. Perhaps, 1st Baptist Church made life so distasteful to some of its members they had no choice but to separate themselves. Indeed, we have left the teachings of Christ - "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Mr. Cathy has simply followed the teaching of his own church, forsaking that of his God, and has become - harmless as a serpent and wise as a dunce! The very people he should be trying to convince of the validity of his faith have been pushed away.
Another teaching of Christianity, that seems to be forgotten, is this. Christ told his disciples to "Be one, even as I am One." This call to unity, that is being ignored by the supposedly faithful, may be the true cause of the entire Chik-Fil-A stupidity.
The creation of the "Christian Media" was obviously not to edify the faithful or to convince the world of the truth of this Gospel they profess. It was, in large part, a protest movement against what they call the Liberal Media, Drive By Media, LameStream Media. But, as happens too often in protest movements like this, the "Christian Media" has resorted to the same tactics as all media outlets in order to compete. Nothing is so stupid as to vanquish. One does not win an argument by resorting to the same tactics one's opponents use. The real glory is to convince the one that your position is true by showing him, mostly without words, that the truth of your position stands alone.
If the Church were one as Christ has commanded - and here the Church includes those in Christian Media, Church leadership, business owners, charities, and congregations - then Mr. Cathy would have never been placed in a situation to cause this melt down in his image and the risk to his business that was having great impact on his society. The question "What is your stance on Gay Marriage" would never have been asked. Instead, if the Christian Church were One as they are commanded, the interviewer would have attemted to shed Mr. Cathy and his business in the best possible light, not to cover up anything, but to keep the main purpose of the church in mind - to CONVINCE those outside the faith that there really is something true about Christ and his teachings.
A better question, if the Church were really One, would be, "Explain why you run your business the way you do and what impact it has on those that are outside the faith?"
This would have led to a better answer from Mr. Cathy. Something like this:
"Christ teaches me to treat others as I would like to be treated, to be fair, kind, and compassionate. To speak the truth but to walk in mercy. He teaches me to not think too highly of myself but give preference to others, to help the poor - and I try to do all of this with my business because Christ has dominion over that as well."
I cringe whenever I see church signs or flyers or commercials by Christian organizations proclaiming that they are "Taking the city for Christ!" or church gatherings that are identified by words like "Crusade" (sorry Mr. Graham). Have Christians forgotten, or did they ever know, that to vanquish leaves everyone blind and toothless? (Thanks Fiddler on The Roof). Have Christians forgotten the teaching of the head of their supposedly unified organization? That in the last days Christ will return to vanquish? For us the real glory is to convince. Christ, in reference to his disciples, never commanded us to vanquish anything or anyone but, perhaps, the devil. Instead he taught his disciples to teach. The apostle Peter said to "always be ready with an answer for the reason of your faith." To vanquish removes teaching and reasoning out of the equation all together. To vanquish leaves us nothing with which to deal with our society than battle and conflict, and anger. To vanquish, as Mr. Cathy, and his church have tried to do, leave the distance between us a much wider chasm than when we first begun.

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