pablo (40).png
Posts tagged evangelical
On Being an Ecumenical: Part 3
pablo (25).png

In the first part of this series, I introduced you to my new noun, Ecumenical. In last week’s post, I shared a bit more about this definition. Today, I want to share ways in which you, too, can live as an Ecumenical.

Living as an Ecumenical means acknowledging and appreciating every facet of the whole diamond, which is the Christian Church, rather than thinking that the unpolished part needs to be removed or only one facet ever gleans the brightest. It means going back to the mystery that is found in our faith and creeds.

Being an Ecumenical means valuing the richness and uniqueness of each tradition within our Tradition. It means we acknowledge that there won’t always be unanimity, but we’re ok with that because we know that unity does not require uniformity. It means we remember and live as if we are a family. As the scriptures remind us, just as an ear can’t say to the eye ‘I have no need for you,’ we in one tradition can’t say to another, ‘I have no need for you.’ Instead, we work to be together trusting that we are more than our specific and particular tradition.

When you’re an Ecumenical, you can honor, respect, and even practice spiritual rhythms from the whole Christian Church. I believe this because my spiritual life has flourished as I’ve started incorporating spiritual rhythms from the diversity of the Christian tradition.

For instance, I worship with Gospel music, do the daily office or fixed hour prayer with the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, pray through the use of icons similar to the Orthodox church, try to spend 10-20 minutes a day in centering prayer and meditation as practiced by many Catholic individuals, study sermons like a good Evangelical but also think Communion, or the Eucharist, is a better sermon than the best preacher could ever preach, and I read as many authors who are not from my tradition as possible.

So, what I’m really saying is that if you’re thinking of planting a church that plays a lot of Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond, follows the Episcopal liturgy, does weekly communion, and has a bunch of icons in the it. That would give me so much life. I’d tithe you all my money.

Being an Ecumenical also means practicing justice, fighting racism, dismantling white supremacy, creating equitable spaces, renouncing war and violence, overcoming poverty, protecting and caring for all of creation, pursuing spiritual, emotional, and physical health, building a greater understanding of our neighbors, and partnering with other faiths and organizations who are doing similar work rather than competing with or combating them.

And for goodness sake, being an Ecumenical means we’ve got to stop fighting, and bickering, and blaming, and belittling other Christians who may think differently from us. It means having the humility and the gracious freedom to realize that we don’t have the whole faith tradition figured out and that maybe we are wrong about a few things here and there and that just because someone thinks differently does not mean this person is a heretic.

And, being an Ecumenical means trusting that God has been, and still is, on the move, making all things new and that God continues to be up to something good in our world. As Ecumenicals, we’ve got to get on board and keep up with the movement of Spirit.

Imagine if we lived like this. Imagine if we lived as Ecumenicals. Would it bring you hope? Would it speak deeply to your soul? Would you want to be a part of something like that? Honestly, I think it would. And truthfully, I think I’m all in.

See, I’ve fallen in love, not with one particular church, but with the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

I stand in awe not only of my tradition, but of our Tradition.

I want to practice the faith with not only a few Christians, but with the depth of Christianity.

I affirm one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

And I believe that when we do this together, in unity, then all people will know God is love.

So, perhaps I’m not an Evangelical. But, I am an Ecumenical. I hope you’ll join me.

On Being an Ecumenical: Part 2
pablo (24).png

Last week, I introduced you to a new noun, Ecumenical, and why Evangelical has become tainted. In today’s post, I want to walk you through my new definition of the term.

Even though the original intent of the word has merit, I think Ecumenical is a better term than Evangelical. It is a term that might embody what the Jesus tradition is all about and allow us to tell a great and hopeful story, one that people are longing to hear.

As an adjective, ecumenical means promoting unity and oneness among the world’s Christian churches. It seeks cooperation and better understanding among different Christian traditions. It values the beauty of diversity, names and embraces our differences, sees everyone as members of the same community, all the while not letting these things bring division. A lofty goal, for sure.

Ecumenical comes from the Greek oikoumene, which can mean “the whole inhabited earth.” It’s used in a handful of different ways in the Christian scriptures, but many branches of Christianity have used it to denote the catholicity or the universality of the Church.

I have found that ecumenicalism is a movement back to the essentials, back to the apostolic faith, back to the affirmation of the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds, and back to the elements that actually unite all of us. Regardless of our traditions, if we’re honest, I think we can get on board with such a movement.

Before he was executed, Jesus prayed for all of us who would believe in him. A simple and profound prayer, Jesus prayed that, despite our differences, we might be one. He didn’t pray that we would be theologically correct in all doctrines, or that we would memorize the Bible, or that we would all be in the same church, or that we would all think or pray or worship the same way. He prayed an ecumenical prayer over us. He prayed that we would be one so that all people will know God loves them and sent them Jesus.

Does that blow your mind? It does mine.

So, when the Christian Church is one, unified, or ecumenical, that will be how all people will know that God loves them and became visible and knowable in the person of Jesus. That’s how the incarnation of Christ will continue….when we become Ecumenicals. It’s right there in our beloved scriptures and right there in Jesus’ prayer.

I’m realizing that this wasn’t what I was taught. Oneness wasn’t an esteemed value. Instead, I was taught my ‘one’ tradition was better than all the other false ones out there. I heard this message in each tradition I’ve been a part of. Those other Christian traditions were wrong and we were right and knew the real truth. Because they weren’t like us, they had no place with us. Such divisive hubris.

Additionally, particular spiritual practices or rhythms that seemed too Catholic or too Orthodox or too traditional had no place in our lives. What deeply saddens me is that in an effort to be uniquely relevant, we stripped away so many spiritual practices, rhythms, and liturgies that we ended up losing richness, depth, and beauty, and we became irrelevant.

I think we can do better. I think we can live better as Ecumenicals.

Stay tuned. In my next post, I will show you how to be an Ecumenical.

Read Part Three here.

On Being an Ecumenical
pablo (23).png

I am claiming an adjective as a new noun. I’m an Ecumenical.

I have been in a soul searching season for the last couple of years and I have discovered that I’ve always been an Ecumenical, I just didn’t have the word for it. This post is my attempt to define it. My manifesto on being an Ecumenical.

I grew up Lutheran, became a Baptist, spent years in non-denominational and evangelical Protestant churches, became ordained in a pietistic denomination, currently work as a chaplain at a university founded by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and have started attending an Episcopal church. A church mutt, you might say, and I think being Ecumenical is deep in my bones.

For a long time, I proudly identified as an evangelical, but these days I find that term no longer means what it once meant.

The term evangelical originates in the Greek term euangelion, which means gospel, or good news. The Protestant faith tradition that took on that adjective is full of passionate people willing to share good news, who emphasize salvation by faith, individual and communal conversion and transformation, the authority of ancient scriptures, and a deep desire to bring people to a dynamic personal faith. I believe in this and it’s a part of who I have been for a long time.

But, to a lot of people, that is not what the term means anymore.

To a lot of people, ‘evangelical’ is synonymous with fundamentalist, anti-women, anti-LGBTQ, and just plain anti-nice or -decent. When 81% of white evangelicals vote for a conservative presidential candidate that makes outlandishly racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks, it sends a message, whether we realize it or not, that evangelicals are just that; white, conservative, racist, sexist, and xenophobic.

At this point, you might disagree with me and say, “Well, I’m not like that.” This might be true and I hope it is. We at least have to acknowledge, though, that this is how many people think of evangelicals. To them, evangelicals are not announcing good news, telling a better story for all people, or sharing hope.

The term evangelical has become tainted. Sure, we can try to reclaim it, and I know many individuals who are fighting to do just that. I’m thankful for their work. Sadly, I think that ship has sailed. I don’t think we should reclaim it, I think we should find a new term.

And, lucky for you, I did just that with turning Ecumenical into a noun. You’re welcome.

Of course, you’ll have to wait for my next post to understand how lucky you are and how I define Ecumenical.

Read Part Two here.