Passages - December 10, 2009
“We're Not In Kansas Anymore!”

By Rev. Louis Stoker
Interim Pastor
Mountain Lake Presbyterian Church
Seeley Lake

It is said that the price of Prozac went up fifty percent last year, and when Prozac users were asked about it, they said, "Whatever."
Roger Williams was ejected from the Puritanical community, leaving with his faith partners of his wife and a friend. Eventually, doubting the friend's theology, Williams cast him out. One wonders about the collusiveness of Williams' wife.
Christianity has seen so often the embattled few against what was perceived as the rest of the culture. Cultures change and bring changes to the Scriptures as well. The oft repeated phrase from the "Wizard of Oz" comes adeptly to mind, "We're not in Kansas anymore." Changes happen for the entirety of Christendom.
Quite often a small group of Christians set up their own concept of purity over against what they consider the corruption of the current culture. It is willing to leave out the people around Christ who were found as questionable associates, and to spread animosities with those who feel differently in the Christian body.
Our Fundamentalists and Evangelicals wish to get away from emerging social and intellectual movements. It is so easy to become convinced of one's own moral superiority and establish an avoidance of critical reflection. The Christian Church is made up of many parts, and they all belong together. There is no one superior group!
The Scriptures have always been seen as "picking and choosing what one thinks is right." The subsequent denominationalisms and groupings are passing away, for newness is coming upon us like "gangbusters." Our culture's response to Christianity is changing, and our responses to the other religions moving into our lives and our country are changing as well.
A rich young man approached Jesus and asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He was told that he must go home, sell his possessions, and then follow Jesus.
In that day those who had money were hoarding–keeping money away from the poor. There was no "economic productivity" of that day. But since the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, we owe much to those who invest for the productivity of society.
In the recent recession we would have been in severe consequences if it had not been for those who "saved and invested," allowing our country to salvage banks and prop up economic "behemoths." The basics of the culture changed throughout the centuries.
The Scriptural injunctions of slavery, feminism, economics, and judgment have changed, but the spirit of God has not changed in the resultant transitions. The reactions against the stolidness of the Christian factions is being felt throughout our society, and diversity is a growing trend. Those who cannot speak in "togetherness" must stand outside what the Christian scholars are calling "the revolution" which is happening right under our noses.
George Barna, Bill Easum, Tom Bandy, and many other scholars refer to the great number in reaction to current Christian immutable holdings as the "Alumnae Association."
Whenever the church fights the culture in which it exists, it loses its option to speak to that culture. We need to re-identify with the culture in which we live!


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