(Say the Jesus Creed morning and evening during Lent.)
I include today a letter from a pastor who solicits your response.
I continue to enjoy the blog each day. Thanks for the daily encouragement and stimulation. I have a situation in my church that maybe the community would like to respond to. I think it requires me learning how to take a ?Jesus Creed? approach.
I have been serving a small group of believers on a part-time basis as their pastor, preaching there since September and the ?official? pastor since February. One fellow in the church (I?ll call him ?Jon?) sees himself as a teacher and has considered vocational ministry in the past. He is mostly self-taught and his focus is on apologetics.
In person, Jon appears to be a caring and sensitive brother. He has a heart for those in need. He does not insist upon his own way. He stays pretty quiet, and even in the one conflict situation I?ve seen, he handled it well, with patience and a cool head.
However, almost every day the other members of the church and I get emails from Jon about things he?s studying. He is a fervent Young Earth Creationist, having been drawn to that movement out of questions during college about the relationship between the Bible and science. The previous leader in the church allowed him to teach a class with “Answers in Genesis” materials and he took that up again right about the time I started. I find most of the teaching and the articles he sends to be marked by bad Biblical exegesis, junk science, questionable logic and debate tactics and, in some cases, pure propaganda.
Jon is also attracted to people who say they have the gift of prophecy, and he especially promotes prophecies of doom upon America. Most of the things he sends me seem extreme and from the fringes. A few others in the church have also made comments to that effect.
I haven?t figured out the relationship between the gentle, kind guy I see in person and the absolutist, black and white, fundamentalist zealot who sends us emails. I have tried to offer different viewpoints on things to him, but he is persuaded of his positions and always comes back with fully developed answers defending his own stance rather than showing any willingness to enter into a meaningful dialogue. Therefore, my response so far in the early days of my ministry has been: (1) avoid trying to argue with him, (2) pray for wisdom, (3) study up on the areas he is promoting so that I’m familiar with the issues and can have informed opinions, (4) not do anything rash like “confront” him until I learn more about the dynamics of relationships in the church.
Our church is a small fellowship, about 30 people, that started out as house churches. We have very little capacity for division at this point and I?m trying to figure out the best way to deal with Jon.