Monday, July 19, 2010

Gil Caldwell on RMN Blog: A Call for Responses re: Churches and Inclusion

The Reconciling Ministries Network blog has a posting today by United Methodist minister Gil Caldwell, whose prophetic ministry on behalf of justice and inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the United Methodist Church I value greatly.  I’ve blogged repeatedly about Caldwell at Bilgrimage.  I won’t cite those postings.  Anyone interested in finding them can simply enter “Caldwell” into the search engine for the blog, and they’ll pop up.  Or click on "Gil Caldwell" in the list of labels for this posting.

I want to mention Gil Caldwell’s latest posting at the RMN blog for this reason: it contains a call to action.  I want to support this call to action by passing on Rev. Caldwell’s request to readers of this blog.

Gil Caldwell is asking for feedback from bloggers about his posting, which focuses on Marcus Borg’s book Meeting Jesus for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and The Heart of Contemporary Faith (San Francisco: Harper, 1994).  Borg writes about the inclusiveness of the Jesus movement, and its intent to eradicate social and religious boundaries constructed to maintain the purity of religious groups by excluding those considered impure.

As Borg notes, the story of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts is, at its heart, a story about a decision that confronted the first followers of Jesus re: eunuchs, who were “near the bottom of the purity system” in Israel.  The decision to baptize this eunuch, who asked, when Philip offered baptism to him, whether there were regulations prohibiting his acceptance into the Christian community, was a deliberate decision on the part of the early church to cross a cultural and religious boundary line designed to keep the “impure” out.

Gil Caldwell agrees with Marcus Borg that this and other decisive passages of the Christian scriptures challenge the church, throughout history, to keep on pushing against and transgressing cultural and religious dictates designed to keep stigmatized groups of human beings in an “unclean” posture.  At its heart, the movement Jesus founded is about crossing those lines, abolishing them, and making all of us one in Christ.
Rev. Caldwell invites responses to his posting and to these ideas.  And in support of a United Methodist leader whom I admire, I want to pass on his call to readers of this blog.  You can access Gil Caldwell’s RMN blog posting and the comments feature at that site by clicking on the link above.