Monday, November 07, 2005
Southeast Christian -- Good for Louisville?
As a Catholic, I know I don't have a lot of room to talk about scary churches. But when I look at SECC, read their paper, and listen to some of their members and their pastors, I get a cold feeling.
Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that the good people outnumber the bad by far at Southeast, and that they do a lot of good work within their own community. But I have trouble believing that every one of their thousands of members believes half of what the church teaches, or that many of the people there came there because of Jesus.
Here's a list of things that concern me about SECC.
1) Their bashing of other religions, sometimes subtle and sometimes not. Bob Russell has made attacks on Catholics in his sermons, usually subtle, but there. In the aftermath of 9/11, the church seemed to take glee in attacking Islam, ignoring the commandment to Love Thy Neighbor in order to attack a small subset of another religion that embraces violence.
2) Their embracing of "intelligent design". There is nothing intelligent about it. I've never understood why science can't be seen as a gift from God.
3) The idea that God "blesses them" because they have a country club for a church. I've always had trouble with this thought because, while you should be thankful for good things, you shouldn't take away that somehow you're God's chosen one because you have more than someone else.
4) This quote from Bob Russell (in Louisville Magazine), in explaining that they were not being anti-Semetic when they withdrew from a ministry involving multiple churches when it changed its bylaws to become "Interfaith" instead of "Christian".
"We have the utmost respect for Jewish people," he says. "Jesus Christ himself was Jewish. We have a number of people of Jewish nationality in our church. Our whole faith comes from a Jewish background."
This seems dangerously close to the cliched defense of your average bigot, "some of my best friends are (insert group here)."
5) The influence the church seems to have on the community at large. I don't believe any church should act as the moral compass for a community, nor should it be able to bully the government, legal system, or any other entity to act.
6) What I call the "hierarchy of sins" that many "Christians" embrace. At the top of the list, homosexuality. You could be a vicious murderer (like say, Mel Ignatow), and be accepted by SECC, but if you're gay, the church will probably direct you to one of the ministries designed to cure you of your "sickness." While there is certainly biblical reason to condemn homosexuality, there are dozens of rules in Leviticus and elsewhere that don't seem as important to churches like SECC. Who decided which of these rules was most important? Not God or Jesus, but man. I don't think it is coincidence that Jesus and the apostles spend lots of time talking about loving one another, and being good to each other, but scant time on some of the issues that so disturb the Christian right.
7) The idea that "our way is the right way" because God said so. Faith certainly involves belief, but the idea that a certain church within a larger faith (like say, Christianity) is the one right way to worship has always amused me because the divisions in faith are manmade, not made by God.
I will admit that SECC seems to be a good community. Just as the Catholic Church population shouldn't be condemned for the actions of the priests and archbishops, I can't dismiss Southeast Christian because there are things I don't support within their ministry. But I do remain concerned that their huge size gives them too much power in the community and its foothold within the community keeps some of its congregation from truly thinking for itself.
Posted by Rob at 11:17 PM