Friday, December 12, 2008

the pope got shot on the day i was born

It's true. May 13, 1981.

Hopefully that was odd enough for you to keep reading. It means nothing except that what you are about to read is loads of pseudo-ecumenical happiness.

My wife's family is diverse and fun. Most of them went to Bob Jones and are now Catholic. One of them went from BJU to Oxford and is now a Catholic priest here in the states. His name is Father Dwight Longenecker. 

Dwight and I are pals. We have good discussions about old fundamental Baptist hymns, philosophy, the sacraments, his homilies, etc. He is fairly popular as a Catholic apologist, writer, and speaker. He has written quite a few books. Even the Greenville News just did a write-up on him.

Earlier this fall, Sara's grandma celebrated her 80th birthday. We all gathered at the beach in a big house to celebrate for a weekend. Soon after this, I was informed that Dwight had written an article about me called "Sleeping With the Enemy." Sure enough. PLEASE go read it so the rest of this will make sense.

First off, I'm actually humbled that Dwight thinks I'm a nice and smart fella. Second, I like how he says that we do often agree on issues, but how we get there is a different story. I'm finding this out more and more as a teacher. I want to teach HOW and WHY just as much as WHAT.

After this though, I believe that even Dwight would admit he paints too broadly over Protestantism. He surely doesn't mean to over-generalize, but I feel he is close to it. His article is really cute, academic-sounding, and philosophical. But the bottom line is that Jesus said when we do it to the least of them, we have done it to Him [Mt 25.40]. "Dialectic" is way too big of an attempted explanation here. That is pure obedience in view of the person and work of Jesus. If you even try to qualify that it begins to lose its simplistic beauty.

Furthermore, he really wants Protestants to have a sacramental worldview. This is faintly hinted at in his article. I also know this from talking to him. And here's a shocker - I totally agree with him! If we don't believe that grace tangibly and supernaturally enters into our space, time, and matter universe then we shoot the Bible and the mission of Jesus in the foot. NT Wright says good stuff about having this kind of lens in his "Surprised By Hope."

Also, I think Dwight's soup kitchen illustration is like attempting to separate a "both/and" situation. Follow me here: Is the kingdom of God here or is it coming? Well, yeah. Was Jesus fully man or fully God? Uh... yes. Did Christ die for us or for God? Let me think - absolutely! So, in our hypothetical soup kitchen, both of us would be legit in our intentionality.

Finally, I wouldn't consider myself an apologist, a polemicist, or even a trainee Baptist pastor. I just know that living like Jesus, with Jesus, and for Jesus is our call. I believe this includes the sacraments, the pursuit of acuteness in theology, social justice, humility, and much more. I also believe with all my heart that attempts at those things unaided by the Spirit of God are vain and cloud the vision of life with God in Christ.

Owell. I think I could write forever about this. I love the Dwight. So we disagree a little.


Donna said...

AMEN, brother . . . ah, son-in-law.

lilywood said...

I would hope that he agrees that he's painting in broad strokes. Although it reminds me more of a straw man than a broad stroke. Not to mention the false dichotomy that you called him on near the end :)

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