My Response to Vandelia Church

From Special Agent D:

Brother [Agent X]
So is Tony Campolo being rebellious, too?  Or could there really be more than one point of view?
Regarding past hurts, I’m sorry you did not feel safe.  But I think that is a matter to be dealt with privately (you and your dad and I, which is why I’m sending this to only the two of you) instead of on the blogosphere.
Thanks for your affirmation of love.  Please know it is mutual.

To Special Agent D:

Yes.  The love I wrote of is real.  I think of many times when you were my friend and shepherd.  I have seen you sacrifice your time and care far beyond your comfort zone, far beyond that of others, and I have seen it when I benefited and when others have.

I have heard wise words come from you.  In fact, I believe this has been the case more often than not.  Otherwise, why would I have admiration?  And probably my care for you would be diminished – especially since you are a leader in the church.

And so I am surprised at this reaction to me.  What does Tony Campolo have to do with us?  Is he rebellious?  No one is good except God.  All have sinned {rebelled) and fallen short of the glory of God.  Need I say more???

I love and admire Campolo.  He was taking on this issue long before it was cool.  I read a book of his that dealt with it in some general terms very imaginatively several years ago.  I do not know what he is saying these days on the matter.  And since you popped his name out like that in this response, I ASSUME he favors your “point of view” or something like it, and now you think his name recognition is going to settle it for me.  No?

You could have chosen Brian Walsh.  That is a name I respect more than Campolo.  He wrote a book that messed me up as a Christian.  I have never been the same since.  He challenged me at my core, made me see the world very differently.  It was scary really, and I shared it with you and a few others when I discovered it.  Even D___ H___ read it, and when he gave it back he told me that what he read was right, but he did not think he could live in accordance with it.

And then a few years ago, Walsh starts endorsing homosexuality.  This guy is a leading Bible scholar that I respect, who has changed my life beyond measure.  His influence with me cuts deep.  But I disagree with him, and I am SHOCKED especially since I know what he knows!

Oh… and btw, he is a leading student and colleague of N. T. Wright.

Sadly, Walsh is wrong.

This means Walsh is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.  It means that even great men like Walsh can be wrong – even on important matters.

Do you still want to discuss Campolo?

As regards “past hurts…” and “feel[ing] safe….”

It is really late in the game to address that now.  Several years late.  And apparently you did not read my email very carefully, because I said I do not personally want Vandelia to be a place of safety.  Those running around declaring peace and safety frequently have hidden agendas.  No.  I am more interested in bringing this stuff out in the light of day.

I went to a family meeting the other night where charter membership from Vandelia was represented.  The process for confronting leadership there (privately, I might add) was discussed, and I immediately recognized that it looked exactly the way I had been treated when I did that.  And that was years ago.

Leadership at Vandelia has an M.O.  And it is to control the information, circle the wagons, and stonewall the critics.  This actually is fairly typical of church leadership.  I encountered similar tactics at Carpenters Church before they officially kicked me out.

Was I cussing?  Fornicating?  Slandering?  Committing greed?  (Heavens, no.  Greed gets a pass every Sunday in this town!)  Was I beating someone up?  Was I driving too fast?  Did I eat too many calories?

No.  I stood up for the poor, and I refused to have any more private meetings behind closed doors where these “church” leaders could actually say they would not allow the homeless in their doors on cold winter nights.  They desperately wanted me to come to their private meeting so they could kick me out or silence me with their manipulations and make me look like a kook brought back into submission to their evil plans.

I refused then.  I refuse now.

Perhaps you read my series of praises for Vandelia early this year.  In February, I wrote a whole series of posts where I recounted the good old days when we used to love God and love the poor.  Did you see that?  I don’t recall your response.  You should have considered it an olive branch, but I don’t think you or anyone there took me that serious at the time.  Now you do, and you want to get me in for a private discussion.  But I think it is the light of day you suddenly respect.  For it surely isn’t me.

And anyway, my “past hurts” are not brought up here so that you can finally … all these years later… start to care and address them privately.  No.  They are brought up to tell you publically, that I am seeing your M.O.  You stonewall.  That’s what you do.  And if you can speak privately, then you can maintain your stone wall.

Meanwhile your church is disappearing.  Open you eyes, Man!  You are having your point, but at what cost?  And your point is a bad one!  Read your Bible!  Look at it again!

Out of one side of your mouth you say gay is okay with God, but out of the other side you say… It’s a difference of opinion!  Which is it?  It cant be both!  But you try and try to have it both ways, and meanwhile the flock you are shepherd of is dispersing all over the hills and dales!

I don’t really think I am talking to the real heavy weight there at Vandelia yet.  I think you are like C.S. Lewis’s tragedian.  I am talking to the façade on a chain rather than the real person holding his leash.  I would rather this message get behind you and sink into the hearts and minds of N___ B_______ and E____ R____, since I have reason to believe you and G___ N____ were always mere decoration on the panel of elders to begin with.

But finally, as for my blog.  You and I can have lots of private conversations on other topics at other times.  But I have this blog as a way of making exactly this kind of stuff public.  I have knocked on your door before and been refused.  Jesus knocked and was refused.  And now, “gay love”, which is not really gay, nor is it really love – otherwise its a good name for it – is the agenda taking over while the poor get screwed yet again!  That is newsworthy.  And I happen to be one of the inside people on this one.

Kick me out or repent.  You cant have this both ways.  You wouldn’t be the first “church” to make the former choice instead of the latter…..  But there is still time for you to be first to do the latter instead of the former.

Agent X

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