Interesting book and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. In this book Adam Hamilton takes a look at the stance of what has become known as “Conservative,” “Liberal,” and then the “Conservative Radical Middle” as Hamilton calls it. Hamilton takes a look at the stance of these differing views on what we would call the hot button issues. Issues such as abortion, homosexuality, evolution, war, the infallibility of scripture, etc…
I came away from this book with a better understanding of all sides on these issues. I came away having learned some great ways to do ministry different and to be able to reach out to those who have been marginalized.
Adam Hamilton is a United Methodist Pastor and someone I respect, I have read several more books that he has authored and enjoyed them all. I really appreciate the conversation Adam has in this book and it has helped me to better articulate what I believe about these issues. Thank you Adam for being honest and sharing your heart.
Here are a few quotes from the book that either made me think or held my interest.
“They don’t want to just go “left” or Top of Form
Bottom of Form
“right,” but deeper. Seeking to find the moral ground on which a new consensus can be built and better decisions made is much more appealing than a weak and soulless centrism. More and more people want to see a new common-good politics and bridge-building church.”
“Researchers found that “Americans cannot be easily characterized as conservative or liberal.”
“Liberal and conservative are relative terms—we’re all more liberal than someone, and more conservative than someone else.”
“Among the struggles we have as human beings is our tendency to “major in the minors.” We “can’t see the forest for the trees.” We “win the battle and lose the war.” We struggle to “keep the main thing the main thing.” We make “a mountain out of a molehill.” Our desire for certainty, our need to be right, and our tendency to miss the point have conspired to keep Christians from experiencing unity, and instead have led to endless divisions within the Christian faith.”
“In America alone there are over two thousand different Christian denominations and tens of thousands of churches that are independent and nondenominational churches. Though all claim to be followers of Jesus, most have divided over matters of doctrine or ways of practicing their faith. Each feels that their doctrine and practice is more faithful than the others.”
“I don’t believe all Christians should be United Methodists. In fact, I think Christianity would be the poorer if they were. The truth is that all of the branches in this tree called Christianity are a bit defective. But each adds to the beauty of the whole. What a tragedy if we were to cut off all but one of the limbs. But what riches are to be found if we can humbly listen and learn from one another, appreciating our differences, while together seeking to follow Jesus Christ. How often the Christian church’s ability to accomplish good is diminished by our infighting. What if all 224 million Christians in America were actually working together to shape a nation that looks like Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God, where poverty does not exist, where people practice justice, where love of neighbor is universally practiced? But this will never happen. We are too busy “straining gnats.”
I agree with a lot of these statements, I believe as the church we are guilty of making mountains out of mole hills. I believe we often focus on the minors while people all around us are floundering. I believe Hamilton is on to something in this book. We as the church need to find common ground and fight the enemy. We as the church need to focus on loving God and loving neighbor. We as the church tend to get in-focused and forget about the world around us.
That said, I believe that Adam has compromised what scripture, tradition, reason, and experience have taught and continue to teach us. I am grace filled, I love the sinner and I am one. I love the criminal and hate the crime, I love the sinner and hate the sin. I love people and I believe that Jesus died that we might have eternal life but that’s not all. Jesus died that we might have Abundant Life now.
If we meet in the middle by deciding to embrace sin then we will cease to be the church as God has called us to be. We are an imperfect people saved by Christ. This does not give us the right to use our freedom to sin. This gives the right to use our freedom to grow and pick up our cross and follow God. Jesus said life would be filled with trials, temptations, and troubles of every kind. Fight the good fight, hold fast to scripture and refuse to agree with the world, the flesh, and the devil, even if we ourselves are guilty of the sin that we abhor. Fight it, don’t decide to embrace it just because you have a desire for it.
That said, I love my brother Adam Hamilton and could easily be in ministry with him. I believe that he would love me and appreciate my views as well.