Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who I Am

This overblown commercial 'controversy' has brought a lot of people to this space the past few days.

Some may question my motives. Some may question my alliances. Some may see this, that, or the other group mentioned and jump to certain conclusions. Allow me to lay it out so that no mistakes are made.

I was born into the United Church of Christ. That makes me a 27-year member. My father is a UCC minister. My mother is the youth director at a UCC church. I've attended UCC churches my whole life, was baptized in one, was confirmed in another. I was married in a Baptist accomodate the guests.

I am a graduate of Heidelberg College, a UCC-affiliated school with a Reformed background.

I am a graduate of Eden Seminary, a UCC-affiliated school with an Evangelical background.

I've been a delegate to General Synod twice. I've served as a counselor at Templed Hills and Pilgrim Hills, the UCC camps of the Ohio Conference. I participated in a UCC-affiliated campus ministry at Heidelberg. I participate in Association and Conference meetings, and various committees at the Association level.

At the end of this month, I will have been ordained in the UCC for a year and two months. I have been serving a UCC church for a year and four months. I plan on serving the local church of the UCC for as long as I feel called to do so.

I am not, formally or informally, affiliated with Biblical Witness Fellowship or the Faithful and Welcoming movement. I voted for the equal marriage rights resolution. I voted against divestment. I would vote against the Iraq war if it were up to me. I can't bring myself to say that I'm pro-choice, but recognize instances when abortion may be necessary. I would vote in favor of stem-cell research. I voted for the 'Jesus is Lord' resolution, even though I thought it was unnecessary. I like the bouncer ad and the steeple ad. I don't like the ejector seat ad.

I love God. I love Jesus. I say the UCC Statement of Faith with reverence and awe. I believe that love of God and love of neighbor are the essential teachings of Jesus, and should be essentials in the church. I don't believe the Bible is inerrant, but I believe that the Holy Spirit is living and active through it. I believe that God is still speaking, but think that the slogan is overused. I believe that Jesus calls us to action and not just belief. I believe that faith without works is dead. I believe that force-feeding a belief in God--through the pledge or through displaying a big rock with the 10 Commandments on it--will not make this nation any more 'Christian.' I believe that a church, any church, should state what it is, rather than what it is not. I believe in covenant and autonomy.

This commercial BS doesn't state who I am, and this entry only begins to do so.

Welcome to Philosophy Over Coffee.

And that's the last word on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Hi PoC,

I saw the ad last night for the first time and I agree with you. It states who the UCC is not rather than what it is. A negative campaign is dangerous. What were they thinking?

Discerning a Call

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts on the ad campaign sparked a question I've been mulling for a while. I was talking to one of my UCC friends and they said that the church was becoming "too liberal" and were searching for another denomination. What are your thoughts on the relationship between politics and faith? Though political background may affect one's beliefs, should it be only right to find a denomination that fits your political ideas, or is the belief in Christ more important than particular denomination? I think the UCC doesn't put as much as an emphasis on the denomination than others: "May They All Be One".

Hope that makes sense.
-Cincinnati reader

Jeff Nelson said...

Hi Cincinnati Reader. Welcome.

In its best light, I would say that following Christ leads to action, even political action. His message of the kingdom of God did have a political ring to it in its time, so certain implications arise.

What we in the UCC wrestle with is the particular nature of that action and of those implications. Jesus preached a message of hope to the poor and oppressed and taught peace. How is hope best brought to the poor and oppressed? Does teaching peace automatically lead to pacifism? Is 'love your neighbor' equal to 'be tolerant?' What is sin and what are sins? Answers to these questions lend themselves to particular political belief and action, although not necessarily to any one political party that seems to cover it all.

I certainly agree that political background affects one's beliefs. When one attempts to discern Jesus' meaning, one needs to be honest about where one is coming from, and allow oneself to be surprised at the possibility of a different answer.