There is little doubt that America and the world are going through “reactionary times.” The whole human race seems to have a “knee-jerk” response to every stimulus, from fundamentalist Islam to fundamentalist Christianity on several continents. Then there is politics, in which it seems every commentator strives to become a loudmouth, and every loudmouth strives to run for office.
We might like to walk away from all this, but the apostles of reactionary thinking hunt us down, invade our privacy, and badger us with inflammatory and indignant dichotomies. If I hear one more person, secular or religious, who declares that the current state of affairs is an “Armageddon” I think I will puke.
(Armageddon, by the way, appears only once in the entire Bible in one measly verse, Revelation 16.16. Its place and meaning are fraught with interpretive pitfalls, but I think its interesting that the folks who insist that the entire Bible must be taken literally take this one verse symbolically. If Armageddon is an actual geographical place where the final battle between God and Satan will take place, then that will be in the Holy Landif anybody can ever figure out where Mount Megiddo is. Even crazier, Rev. 16:16 indicates “the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon,” but alas there is no such word or place in the Hebrew Bible or Hebrew language. Hmmm.)
One thing seems certain to me ~ the final battle between good and evil is not likely to happen in New Brighton, Minnesota (home of the reactionary Word Alone club) or any of the dozen odd places around the U.S. where conservative Lutherans have their shorts in a knot over last summers decision by the churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow the ordination of lesbian and gay clergy.
As we have observed in recent months, there are sub-armagiddish battles going on in Lutheran congregations over whether they should stay in the national churchbody or instead run to . . . wherever they think that queers are least likely to turn up, I guess.
Even I have to rethink my time-honed prejudices about red and blue states, open and closed minds and the progressive or retentive expressions of ideas about God and human sexuality. I was delighted to read that as group of 18 current and retired/emeritus faculty from one of our seminaries not one I had considered “progressive” by any stretch have decided to speak up in favor of the ELCAs churchwide decisions, in other words, in support of its discernment that LGBT people are also children of God and full brothers and sisters to other Christians. Faculty from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina have issued the Columbia Declaration, with an entire web site publishing various resources in support of the ELCAs actions, including materials with biblical, historical, confessional, practical and missional focus.
Some of these resources tread over well-worn liberalizing paths, but one can hope that perhaps some new people will walk these paths and discover new territory. If you want fresh material to think through these controversies today, I commend the articles published here.
The “Columbia Declaration” (obviously dubbed in distinction from the so-called Manhattan Declaration last fall) says in part,