On Sunday night I heard a rumor and joined a Facebook group only to see if it was true. I thought joining the group was an innocent enough gesture, just showing support for a friend and former professor who had been unfairly treated.
As the week unfolded it became apparent I had done so much more than join a Facebook group. What had happened and is happening is so much more than a mistreated professor.
I wrote a blog expressing some frustration on Tuesday. Actually, that blog kind of wrote itself. I went into a really rare writer’s trance and emerged out of it having all ready posted it. I reread what I wrote and noticed a few grammatical errors and awkward phrases which reveal the overwhelming passion I felt at that moment. That passion has not subsided.
When I posted the blog, I felt like it would be fairly popular but I had no idea how popular. As of right now 5200 people have seen the link on Facebook and it has been viewed 1500 times.
I want to pause a minute and say “Thank you” to all of you for hearing my voice and thank you to those who have given me positive feedback and helped me know I am not alone. In cases like these social media is certainly a means of grace.
That last sentence is not being widely recognized right now. There are a few voices in this particular crisis who have leveled frustration at Facebook claiming the social media service has blown things out of proportion. And I agree that 10 years ago, this local situation at NNU may not have started quite the firestorm. But that is all the more reason we need forums like Facebook. There were very real misdeeds being done and if social media helped expose them and right the wrongs than I am all the happier.
With that said, how do you follow up your most successful post ever? How do we move forward after the last 7 days as a church, as a people, as a denomination?
I don’t know but I do take heart in the voices who have called us to prayer and fasting. I have found my prayer life deepened by this tragedy, as if we really do serve a loving and wooing God who in the midst of trials and tragedies beckons us to come into God’s presence.
With that said, what we did this week and what we do next week are incredibly important. Love really is on the line here. This is a moment when as a denomination we can choose to treat each other better and hold each other (even our leaders) accountable or to turn a blind eye and so let the list of victims increase.
To illustrate how love is on the line, I want to share my story of being a student of Tom Oord.
I first heard his name in the Christian fundamentalist high school that I graduated from. It was our Old Testament teacher who hated the very name, “Tom Oord” and had grievances with all of NNU’s faculty. He made us memorize the books of the Old Testament (and I am still grateful) but stopped there and instead taught us all the “heresies” being taught by NNU. He regularly tested us on those heresies, even beginning his tests with a question, “Is this test an attack on Tom Oord?”
One student circled “yes” and got detention, even though that student knew the truth. My high school teacher hated his enemies and the hate dripped off of him. He regularly got red in the face and yelled about the evils of wrong thinking.
So when I started attending NNU, even though I was called to be a pastor, I avoided the Christian Ministry department like the plague, declaring a business major. Unfortunately, they made me take a Bible class. In that class we were actually required to read the Old Testament. In 2 years of “Old Testament” classes at my high school I had never once opened the Bible.
A year later I took Sophomore theology and we read Scripture there too.
But it wasn’t until my junior year that I met Tom Oord. Tom knew people disagreed with him but never demonized them. He would often say in class, “some disagree with me and here is why” and he would represent their opinions in the best light. A few times he even talked me into going with them instead of him! He never got red in the face or angry. He knew his way around the Scriptures and seemed to quote large texts with great love for God’s written word. This love spilled out of Tom at every turn.
I had never seen a fundamentalist actually love Scripture and it was Tom who really taught me that love is a verb (with all due respect to that lousy DC Talk song). It is not an expression or a feeling. You have to show it.
And Tom, along with his colleagues, helped me actually show my love for Scripture, a love that continues to inform my love for others. It is not enough to claim Scripture’s authority, you have to read it and delight in it and use Scripture as a means of delighting in God and others. That is how Scripture is used at NNU and that is how I have endeavored to use Scripture since then.
So with Tom and all of our friends in this great movement, I plan to live a life of love because they will know we are Christians by our love!