Saturday, November 2, 2013

The death of a vision or the start of a new one?

By now, all of the Christian community has heard of the unfortunate circumstances of the Vision Forum.  Their founder and leader openly confessed to an inappropriate relationship with a woman and has stepped down.  If you want to read more about it, the letter (from its original site) is here. 

I first want to openly praise a man in leadership of any ministry that has fallen in this way to handle this in the way he has.  Although I do not know the man personally or much about his life, I can say that the pressures of running a ministry and a church can add a lot of pressure to the family life, even if your entire ministry is about family!

I also want to offer my condolences to any of my readers who are deeply involved with the Vision Forum and the F.I.C. (Family Integrated Church) Movement.  When a leader falls, it is inevitable that the followers start questioning their very moorings and tenants of their belief system.  They may go so far as to get disillusioned, embittered, and sarcastic toward the leaders or the movement as a whole.

But I do have a few thoughts on this subject.

(Bear with me, as I pontificate.. i.e. wax eloquently like I know what I am talking about)

An ideology or set of beliefs that define our "brand" of Christianity do not, in and of themselves, create spiritual formation within a person.

It took me many years to come to that conclusion.  Because, quite honestly, I drank deep into the belief that doctrine creates practice and practice creates holiness; therefore: doctrine creates holiness.

What God is teaching me is just this: dependence on God and complete humility before HIM creates holiness.

Smugness or confidence in right doctrine actually produces the opposite of dependence on God.

So, am I saying that people with poor doctrines have greater holiness?  No.  I am saying that regardless of the level of "light" you have been given or "understanding in better ways" or whatever you want to call it..  does not produce right living.

And however you want to phrase it--- dependence on God-- or repentance-- or complete humility-- or a constant searching for God-- is what creates true Christian living.

Now back to the Vision Forum.  For those of you who are part of this movement, (I am not on the inside of this) do the leaders of this movement exhibit humility and a dependence on God? Have they been taught to show grace to those who fall?  Those who have been shown grace are much more likely to serve it back.  Is there an aura of acceptance and forgiveness in this group? and in the FIC style of churches?

In the few internet searches, there appear to be many disgruntled (former) members who are almost gloating in this fall.  That is very unfortunate.  Perhaps they were treated without grace or kindness within the confines of these circles?

However it is, a movement that gathers unto family should be first characterized by grace, acceptance and forgiveness.  Perhaps the new vision of the Vision Forum could include acceptance those who fall and embracing the imperfect people also. Perhaps they will open their circles to the regular Christians of the world who use birth control and send their children to schools and sometimes need to send their daughters to college or their moms to work?  Not sure.  But forgiveness needs to start within their own ranks.  And let it start with me.

I represent the rest of the (non-patriarchal) Christian mindset who doesn't hate the Vision Forum or F.I.C.s  just think they've missed the mark, biblically.  Grace starts here.  This is how it is done, people.

We love you guys and hope you recover soon.


2 comments:

Herding Grasshoppers said...

That's a pretty amazing letter. I sincerely hope it's genuine and the man is truly repentant (not implying that he isn't... just wishing the best.)

I'm always curious in a situation like this how the leaders have previously handled similar situations with their followers. As you said, is this a movement characterized by grace and mercy and forgiveness?

I'm not on the inside either, but you speak for me too in hoping for that to result.

Julie G

kathrynwarmstrong said...

Right on, sister! I am so far removed from various branches of Christian thought (at least, beyond my own) that I'd not even heard of Vision Forum and am not sure what FIC stands for...but I agree with you. We ALL fail in one way or another (not the least of which may be in pride over our self-discipline), and we ALL need forgiveness and grace. May we start by living lives of humble repentance and dependence on God, receiving his forgiveness and grace, and then extending what we've been given to those around us.