About the coordinated effort of 8 conservative Christian churches to discredited Fountains Methodist Church, John Shore:
What is neither fair nor benign, however, is the Gang of 8's pastors calling pastor Felten a tool of Satan, a hypocrite, an apostate and reprobate and comparing what he preaches to Naziism....Erin Wathen has a theory
Name-calling and the casting of harsh dispersions is typical of bullies and those feeling threatened.
And if there's one message the Gang of 8 is successfully communicating, it's that they're feeling threatened.
Threatened they are, and threatened they should be. For the Christianity they represent is, in a word, ruinous. It holds that the "unrepentant" LGBT person is destined for hell, that wives must be subservient to their husbands, that Christians alone can enjoy a heavenly afterlife.
The Christianity they preach and teach feeds off fear, exclusivity, anger and victimizing "the other."
With more and more evangelical Christians (especially the younger variety) coming around in support of marriage equality, fundamentalist pastors are wondering—‘if our people aren’t afraid of the gays any more, then who are we supposed to protect them from?” .....So then it hits them—Other Christians! Those people who CLAIM to believe in Jesus and scripture, but really think that evolution is a thing. And also are not quite sure about the virgin birth. THEY are the new foil to our ownership of all things holy.
But, it is important to acknowledge that the intent behind this ‘fact or fiction’ message—and others like it, coming soon to a suburban mega-church near you! —is not just to diminish or silence. It is to set apart yet another group of people as outsiders; and, as such, as a threat to the ‘real and actual truth’ as it is perceived within a certain institution. This is what gives power to said institution–establishing an adversary, and then selling yourself as the only protection from that danger.
How that equates to ‘gospel’ for anyone, anywhere, is beyond me. But it’s worked for centuries.
Eric Scot English:
The debate between progressive and conservative Christianity is not new. Most of the time these kinds of conversations are hashed out in blogs, classrooms, and churches. However, what is unique about this situation is the way in which these churches are choosing to address the issue. Namely, in an aggressive ad campaign and public forum. The publicity surrounding this series is growing and has caught the attention of many around the country.Fountains UMC sees opportunity. From on their blog,
Based on what I can already observe by the series agenda, it is likely that these forums will fail to fairly communicate both sides and, thus, allow the townspeople to make up their own minds on these issues. Instead, it’s far more likely that these forums will be an exercise in providing propaganda in order to persuade congregants that the progressive worldview is completely false and ultimately evil.
If you cannot properly articulate what others believe, then you have nothing to argue against. This does nothing, but perpetuate stereotypes and ultimately provides no benefit to anyone. The purpose of this article is to provide what will more than likely be absent in these seminars- clarity, rationality and truth about the progressive worldview.
Friends of The Fountains like nationally-known author Diana Butler Bass (and others who keep a finger on the pulse of the national religious scene) say that they’ve never seen anything like this before: a coordinated smear campaign/attack by a majority of the churches in one town against a single other church.....
Far from being a bad thing, we believe that in the long run, this is a wonderful opportunity for The Fountains. The outpouring of support from literally around the world has already overwhelmed our office email and Facebook page. Visits to our website have increased a thousand-fold and various organizations and bloggers are picking up our story. ..
While this all may seem scary, it has already proven to be tremendous publicity for our church that “Prays Well With Others” with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. Our strategy is to not be defensive or argumentative, but to keep articulating the positive attributes of Progressive Christianity and always err on the side of grace as we move ahead. There are many who are hungry for the message The Fountains offers – we look forward to this situation helping us reach more and more of them!