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Faith & Religion

Why the Evangelical Church Needs the Liberal Church and vice versa(Sojourners Magazine/February 2004)

Sojourners Magazine has a couple of interesting essays on the nature of the relationship between evangelicals and liberals (framed within the context of the US Presbyterian church). Each essay is written by a self-confessed “evangelical” and “liberal” respectively and look at what each can learn from the other.

Why the Evangelical Church Needs the Liberal Church, Sojourners Magazine/February 2004 by Richard Mouw.

Why the Liberal Church Needs the Evangelical Church, Sojourners Magazine/February 2004 by Barbara Wheeler.

I was struck by Wheeler’s image of the church:

“a tense, edgy, difficult church made up of zenoi, strangers, who cling to each other for dear life in the same chilly, rocky baptismal boat because we are headed to the same destination: a better country.”


“This image of the church as a band of strangers who accept our discomfort with each other as God’s way of moving us forward may seem grimly Calvinistic. The image certainly flies in the face of the best marketing advice about how to grow your church or denomination: Create a warm, friendly enclave where like-minded people can find refuge from the tensions of contemporary life. Churches like that are what the proponents of a cool, clean division of the denomination claim to have in view.”

How much are our own churches, emergent or otherwise, like the enclaves rather than like the parables of the net, or of wheat and tares, in Matthew’s gospel?

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