Blog Archives

Discipleship test – Can your church produce apostates?

Could apostasy actually be a sign of a healthy church?

Lauren Winner of Duke Divinity School recently considered the situation of writer/director Paul Haggis’ defection from his faith. Haggis bitterly – and publicly – left the Church of Scientology because of his disagreement with them over gay marriage (turns out Scientology is not a fan).  Haggis now counts as an “apostate” from Scientology because he has renounced them and their teachings.  So why does Winner care at all about any of this?  Because it helps her think about her own church (Episcopalian) and the rigor (or lack, thereof) it takes to be a part of it.  She writes,

So while I appreciate that my church makes room for patchwork, for doubt, for moving in and out, some days I think: Would that America’s Protestant mainline could produce an apostate. For one might say that a group that lacks the necessary preconditions for making apostates can’t make disciples either.

Now this is a fascinating angle to get at thinking about discipleship – a group isn’t really much good, or good for you spiritually unless it is demanding enough of you that you might leave (or even be pushed out).  So…is she on to something?  Or is she really romanticizing a certain “rugged” view of Christian community that in fact is coercive and harmful?  What do you think?

Flotsam and jetsam (7/17)

  • John Mark Reynolds discusses in a Washington Post forum whether all religions are the same. He argues that in religion, like in physics, small differences matter.
  • A foundation has donated $400k to a California seminary (CDSP) to write liturgies for gay wedding ceremonies in Episcopal churches. This is interesting for at least two reasons. First, the  Episcopal church has not officially recognized gay marriages yet (emphasis on yet). Second, I had not idea it cost $400k to write a liturgy.
  • Kevin DeYoung offers a very interesting graph showing (colorfully) the change in religious affiliation from childhood to adulthood. It’s particularly interesting to see the transfers in affiliation from one group to another.
  • The Vatican has caused a bit of an uproar (they’re good at that) over its decision to make the ordination of women a serious crime on par with pedophilia.
  • Patheos has an interesting set of posts on whether there’s a widening political rift in evangelicalism. (HT)
  • Christopher Benson has a nice post on Postmodernism (nice list of resources) and whether we should now be talking about a distinctively “Biola School” of philosophy that is characterized by “analytic philosophy, a revised foundationalist epistemology, a classical evidentialist apologetics (indeed, it tends to reduce philosophy to apologetics), and a biblicist notion of propositional revelation.”