November 28, 2005

Inclusive Community 2

This is the second in a series of thoughts on what it might mean for a local congregation to be an inclusive community. In the first, I discussed the meaning of inclusive culture and its basis on the Trinitarian fellowship (see here). In this post, I want to discuss what a community must be aware of when attempting to create an environment that might be described as inclusive.

This thought had been percolating for days, and then I found the words that I had wanted, but they weren't mine. On Sunday, I came across a short little gem--Leslie Newbigin's Truth to Tell. He's well known for his discussion of the gospel and truth amidst pluralism. In this book (pp. 63-64), immediately following a discussion of the New Age and nature worship, as if an organ began to pipe and a bride began her march, Newbigin says
Nor can we accept a kind of pluralism which confuses the normal with the normative, which supposes that the unity of humankind can be achieved by raising no question of ultimate truth, a false and deceptive ecumenism which advocates unity as an end in itself and denies the central claim of the gospel, that it is Jesus, the crucified and risen Jesus, who is alone the center around which alienated human beings can be drawn together in a reconciled fellowship.

In essence, the search for unity in diversity, for a place in which diverse persons (especially the boundary-definers--see yesterday) are actually included, the idol of unity can creep in that ultimately denies the reality of Jesus as the only unifier. One must not lose sight of the core of the gospel and the presuppositions on which it is properly understood--a Jewish Messiah seen as the Savior of the world, supposing creation, fall, and redemption.

If these are lost, then the foundation on which anyone can actually be welcomed is lost. At that point, all that one is left with is feeling welcome, and it is not a loving thing to make one feel welcome when they are not. At that point, either you are serving the idol of unity (humanism) or you are serving yourself ("we're so inclusive"). Apart from the ultimate reference point on which a real inclusive community can actually be found, one is left with illusions and deceptions, and that is ultimately of the kingdom of the prince of this dark world.

Read the next post in this series.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Inclusive Community 2