Written by Sam Logan
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 00:00
By now, we have all seen this picture hundreds of times:
I first saw the picture when a very good and respected friend posted it with approval on his Facebook page.
I dissented (and I still do dissent) from his approval of the picture but many of his other friends celebrated both the sentiment expressed by the picture and the approval expressed by the one who posted it.
What should those of us who want to be faithful and missional Christians say in such a situation?
Here are some suggestions (and I would love to get both corrections and further suggestions from the readers of this blog) –
1) The implication that Christians are not as active in ministry (to the poor, to the homeless, to the sexually trafficked, to the victims of natural disasters, etc., etc.) as they are in supporting statements opposing gay marriage should be graciously but firmly rejected. Specific examples of active (and often costly) Christian compassion may be provided . . . so long as they are not presented in a triumphalistic manner. We must never be trumpeting our good works in order to receive the approval of men. On the other hand, simple truth-telling really is a virtue.
2) The tendency that we all have to make blanket statements about groups with whom we disagree (or think we disagree) must be vigorously and constantly be resisted. Any implication that one would never see “that many” Christians at a food bank or a homeless shelter, especially when the implication is made through a global medium like Facebook, is a slander against the millions of Christians in other parts of the world who never even heard of Chick Fil A. I have personally and physically witnessed Christians lining up in places like Soweto and Seoul to help others who were in need and I know from other direct experience that this sort of behavior is “normal” for many Christians, whether the issue is an Indonesian tsunami or a Japanese nuclear disaster or a Palestinian family’s poverty.
3) Unfortunately, however, we evangelical Christians do not always embody this kind of “missional resistance” to making blanket stereotypical statements. Those of us who bear the name of the One Who claimed to be (and is) “the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life” must set the standard of accuracy in the way we talk. Have we ever made a statement about “Muslims?” If so, have we been careful to make such statements only if we have demonstrably clear evidence that what we are saying really is true of ALL Muslims? “Muslims worship Allah” is an appropriate statement for evangelical Christians to make. “Muslims are terrorists” is not an appropriate statement for evangelical Christians to make.
4) To move to the issue which precipitated the Chick Fil A controversy, do we ever talk about “gays”? Do we ever talk about those who support gay marriage? If we do, are we careful to be certain that our statements embody “missional resistance” to stereotyping?
5) I have used the word “missional” in the previous two paragraphs. Why? Because in everything we say and in everything we do, we are responsible to God to embody, to the best of our Spirit-filled ability, what Christopher Wight has called “The Mission of God” and “The Mission of God’s People.” God’s mission and ours is not simply to try to show that others that they are wrong when we think they are, though, of course, standing for the truth is surely an integral part of that mission. In addition to (not in place of, but in addition to) speaking the truth, the mission of God involves Incarnation and the mission of God’s people involves incarnation. We are to BE what we SAY about grace. When others make blanket stereotypical statements about us, they are repeating the linguistic actions of those who verbally assaulted Jesus. When we resist responding in kind, we are repeating His words and His ultimate redemptive deed – “Father, forgive them.”
6) Of all the characters in Scripture, the one whose sin most often crops up in my own life is Jonah: “Lord, those Ninevites are horrible sinners and I want them to get every ounce of judgment they deserve.” “Ah, but Jonah, you love that plant which you did not create . . . should I not love and spare the city of Nineveh?” Even if those who support gay marriage are wrong (and I believe they are), isn’t the mission of God and the mission of God’s people to do that which most clearly embodies the loving and the sparing which God accomplished in Jesus?
I have rarely eaten at Chick Fil A and, in the future, I expect that I will eat there no more (and no less) than before. This is not because I do not care about the issues raised by Dan Cathay’s comments. It is because neither support for nor repudiation of those comments will, in my judgment, facilitate the accomplishment of “the mission of God” or “the mission of God’s people."
But where will YOU be eating your fast-food lunches? And why?
Sam Logan is Special Counsel to the President and Professor of Church History at Biblical. He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and he is President Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. In addition to his work at Biblical, he serves as International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship ( http://www.wrfnet.org). He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan