Over a week ago (which is a small eternity in internet time) there was a hashtag running through my Twitter feed. #IstandwithSGMVictims. So I tweeted it. Because I did. Because I do. Because telling someone about the abuse you suffered, and then not being believed, but instead being slandered, being ignored is terrible. I am brokenhearted that any organization would do this, but I am sickened that it would happen in the name of Jesus. I want people to know that I do believe them, that I do stand by them, that I do care.
Probably, that was not the only reason I tweeted it. I don’t like the theology of Sovereign Grace Ministries. More than I don’t like it, I believe it is damaging. I think that the way they view God and the gospel contributed to the ways they reacted to the allegations of abuse in their ranks. Probably, I think of SGM as a them in the dichotomy of us versus them I tend to put everything in. If I am totally honest with myself, with you, I don’t just want people to know I stand with SGM victims. I want people to know I stand against SGM, and that I was right all along.
A midst the hashtag activism, a voice of reason piped up that the conservative side of the theological divide is not the only one dealing with sexual abuse and cover-up. There is an entire documentary about the abuse, and the purposeful ignoring of victims within JPUSA, an organization with theology that matches mine much more closely. In the us versus them dichotomy in my mind, JPUSA is an us. Notice I didn’t tweet anything about that.
But I am still thinking about it. Over a week later (an eternity of internet time) I am still shaken by my own heart’s willingness to ignore the horrendous behavior of an us, as I publicly call out the thems of this world. I want to stand for all victims. Period. I think I am that person, until I am confronted with the idea that I am not.
I think it has something to do with the way things are being framed. On the internet, yes, but also in my own heart. I think the cover-up at SGM has a lot to do with the things they believe about God, about the gospel. I think they are wrong and so of course terrible things happen. Terrible theology leads to terrible realities. I think that is real.
But good theology does not protect us from terrible things. And that is what I want to believe. I want to believe that if people believe the right things (right things being of course, things that I also believe) then they will always do the right things. I want to believe that we can be saved by our theology. The internet isn’t helping this inclination. Enough time on Twitter and I really start thinking that the world can be saved by everyone thinking the right things, my things. I start believing that all good people believe good (read my) things. In all my talking about God and what we think about what He thinks, I lose track of what He did, and why.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have ever lasting life.
I forget that it is Jesus who saves. Period. No more, no less.
Good people do bad things, bad people do good things. Everyone thinks some wrong things about God, we just aren’t going to get it all right on this side. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important to try. That doesn’t mean theology doesn’t matter. I think it matters very much. I just need to remember it doesn’t protect us. I need to remember it is only Jesus who saves.
This is a really good reminder, Abby. I know I do the “us” and “them” categorizing, with regards to theology, so quickly. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for your honesty and for reminding us that right theology doesn’t save us, only Jesus does.
Richard Rohr said something on Sunday that gave me a lot of hope and might speak to this: “We overcome our evil not by a frontal and heroic attack, but by recognizing it, naming it, and letting it go… We finally see that I am what I am, good and bad put together into one self; and God’s mercy is so great and God’s love is so total that God uses even my sin in my favor! God is using all of me to bring me to God. That is the Good News!”
Blessings on you.
YES! That IS the good news! I will be tucking that into my heart. I want it to be a frontal and heroic attack,but it doesn’t work like that, does it. And the idea that God can use even my sin in my favor is blowing my mind. Thank you thank you.
No it doesn’t work that way. I think if our emotions are high we can write them out like the Psalmist did as journaling, maybe publishing…
Blessing my enemy has helped me and is a very powerful prayer on so, so many levels.
Another thing to check out might be this past weekend’s On Being show. Krista Tippett interviewed this Civil Rights guy whose name escapes me and he said several important and inspiring things.
He said that we should not be afraid to stand in the darkness with hurting kids but also show them how to become lights. This affirmed my call as a writing teacher for kids who come from some of the meanest neighborhoods of Chiraq even though my novel is coming out and it is tempting to seriously consider retiring.
He also said that a hymn of the Civil Rights movement was “This Little Light of Mine” because the people focused on not railing against the evil of George Wallace but on being lights themselves.
He said he will never mock Kumbayah (sp?) moments because when the children were murdered in Mississippi they gave the other young people a chance to think about whether they wanted to stay or not. He found groups of them singing this song. Very few went home.
He also said there is much hope because today’s young people are wanting to change things.
At any rate, if you can spare an hour, go listen on their website. Pretty amazing about how to fight evil.
And yeah, I think the good news is better than good.
I love this. Right on the mark.
Jesus: “why do you call ME good ? there is none good
but the Father.”
Hashtag activism is an interesting thing and I believe many are still scrambling to figure out its potential place and role in social justice and Christianity. I think a lot of the critiques against things like #BringBackOurGirls and #IStandWithSGMVictims are just lazy efforts to be contrarian.
In many ways I believe we all still separate theology and practice by assuming that “good theology” always leads to right practice. Personally and subconsciously, a lot of times I assume head-knowledge about Jesus is more important than the grace of Jesus.
Great stuff here Abby.
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