Shuck and Jive

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Renewal or Ruin?

Renewal or Ruin? is the name of a documentary about the IRD. Here is a study guide to go with the film.

Watch the trailer. Order the
DVD here.

Here is a schedule of spring workshops, including one in Oak Ridge, TN. These two-hour workshops will allow participants to watch and discuss the film. I would encourage you to order the film and show it for a Sunday School class.

The Witherspoon Society linked to an article written this past December, Why I Want to Expose the IRD by the producer of this film, Steve D. Martin. He is a United Methodist pastor near our mountain in East Tennessee:

I begin with an apology. I am one of those people who stays in the background, consuming the pearls that appear on this site, but rarely contributing. I've decided that it is time for me to jump into the game. I will, God willing, contribute regularly to Talk To Action about a subject that I'd rather not talk about, but must.

I tend to want to stay in a state of blissful ignorance: that's why when people started sounding alarm bells some years ago about the Institute on Religion and Democracy, I didn't pay much attention. Something so sinister either must be an illusion conjured up by alarmists, or must operate on such a high level as to not effect me as I work in the trenches of pastoral ministry. My denial changed at Annual Conference in June of 2006.
(Read More)

Here is more from him on the DVD's website:

The United Methodist Church has always been my home. I was baptized in a United Methodist Church, attended Sunday school as a United Methodist, and confirmed when I was in sixth grade. I experienced a life-changing spiritual awakening as a high school senior and can personally relate to John Wesley’s “heart strangely warmed.” I became a United Methodist pastor in 1989, educated at a United Methodist seminary and eventually ordained an elder by my bishop in my home church.

I have often described myself as an evangelical Christian (although such labels fail to package and define God’s truth and grace): I believe in the Holy Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, his atoning death and bodily resurrection. I am against abortion. I believe that no person is without sin, and therefore to bar one person from full inclusion in the life of the church, but not another, is wrong. I believe that marriage is between one woman and one man and is a vow made before God for a lifetime. I feel that Christianity exists to change us, to mold us into holy persons; we do not exist to change Christianity to fit our own personal views and whims.

Some find it odd, therefore, that I have produced a DVD that scrutinizes an organization that claims to defend the very doctrinal standards that define my life as a Christian. I am alarmed less by the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)’s doctrinal positions than I am their tactics and intentions.

The stated agenda of the IRD involves tearing at the basic fabric of The United Methodist Church (UMC) at every level. Through their millions of dollars (most of which are given from outside the UMC), they are able to drive a wedge of doubt and suspicion into our churches and conferences, seemingly for political or financial gain. It is not my intent to critique the IRD’s beliefs and the doctrines it claims to advocate, but its tactics in doing so. The integrity of the church will not be strengthened when a self-appointed group of mostly non-United Methodists follows a strategy of “divide and conquer.”

By producing this video I hope to draw us into a new, civil discussion about our branch of Christ’s church, its past, and its future. This DVD serves as a starting point for a broad debate about the role of the IRD in our church’s life.

The debate will no doubt be passionate, but let us, as the church for whom Christ died, love each other in the midst of it.
Steven D. Martin

Me again. Yes, I may be juvenile and I may use some foul language on occasion. But I hope I got your attention. We are in the midst of a big struggle in our mainline churches. As you can see from Rev. Martin's letter, this struggle is NOT between evangelicals and liberals. It is between those who love our church (evangelicals, liberals, and moderates) and those who wish to tear our church apart.

You don't have to like me or my theology. You don't have to believe me. You can dismiss me as a wacko heretical smart-mouth. Fine. But I am not alone in this concern. When evangelicals like Rev. Martin are concerned enough to spend their own money on a documentary, perhaps we all ought to pay attention.

Read over the writings of Jim Berkley, Mark Tooley, and the other staff of the IRD. Read over the articles on the Layman. See how often they have anything positive to say about our denomination and our staff. See how often they seek to smear the character of our denominational officials. See how often they intimidate with threat of "discipline" those who challenge them. See how often they encourage congregations to withhold funds to the programs of our denomination.

We are divided enough. I certainly am not without sin. I admit that I have added heat and not light on occasion. But this is something very different. This is about big money from the outside capitalizing on our divisions to divide us even further.

1 comment:

  1. Well, hey, I think you definitely got their attention. No doubt about that. :)

    But, having these conservative folks actually want to listen, and open their hearts to you, and these concerns (not just the IRD) is a whole other ballgame. Isn't it, friend?