Dear Gatherer Friends and Family,
The writer of Ecclesiastes famously sighed, “There is nothing new under the sun,” prefaced by a tried-and-true observation: “Whatever has happened—that’s what will happen again” (Eccl. 1:9). Lift the lid on today’s headlines and you’ll find centuries of similar stories. Every day brings another round of resisting our worst impulses in a quest to do what’s best. St. Paul put it plainly: “When I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me” (Rom. 7:21).
Every good idea, it seems, has an evil twin. Yet people often express shock when these vulnerabilities play out in the faith arena. Since church and theology are about God, many seem to think it’s God’s job to keep our work perfect. Yet people of faith are no less vulnerable to hateful ideologies and wicked practices simply because they’re human. When we want to do good, evil is right there, even in faith. Nothing new under the sun.
How did original biblical principles get re-packaged into unbiblical ideologies about race, gender, and identity? How is it that the KKK felt no conflict about carrying crosses? Why do current supremacist cults organize as “churches”? How can so many extremists calling for war and violence end their rallies praying “in Jesus’s name” (as happened on Jan. 6 and earlier this week at the Michigan capitol)?
None of this is new. Today’s white populist movements (in the US and abroad) are frothed in a toxic brew of Christian separatism and primitive tribal culture first seen in Dark Ages Europe. This week, as we continue our November study “Traces,” we’ll look at pre-Christian Europe to learn our present warrior mentality and clannish behavior are directly tied to a past long gone. It’s fascinating to note a lot of we hear today—not only in the public square, but also from many pulpits and religious media outlets—is rooted in primitive tribalism. Nothing new… Swing by this Thursday at 7:30pm CDT to learn more!
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