Inclusivity within claims of heresy

August 13, 2007

These are some of the definitions given by Dictionary.com for inclusive and exclusive.

Inclusive:
2. including a great deal, or including everything concerned; comprehensive: an inclusive art form; an inclusive fee.
3. that includes; enclosing; embracing.

Exclusive:
1. not admitting of something else; incompatible: mutually exclusive plans of action.
4. shutting out all others from a part or share: an exclusive right to film the novel.
8. single or sole: the exclusive means of communication between two places.

I wouldn’t consider myself the world’s best church historian, but the way I see Protestant church history, and the forming of dominations, is basically that initially different dominations were formed in different regions. Even within the different reformation processes there was some difference of opnion, but generally consensus was reached at specific geographical regions. However, very quickly different points of view could be seen between these regions. Not long after that, differences of opinion are found within one region, and the unity of the initial reformation was at an end. Since then the story of the reformation has been one of starting new denominations. Sometimes because of petty theological issues, sometimes over political issues (South African history is an excelent example of this). In a way it seems unavoidable. After the power of one person to have a final say over the church was rejected at the reformation, and the importance of the correct dogma was stressed shortly after, what else could have happened.

Today we seem to be willing to think differently. In a letter in the latest Die Kerkbode, Dr Hennie Mouton, whom I actually know personally, wrote in a letter how tragic it would be if another split would become neccesary in the Dutch Reformed Church. However, he also made no secret of the fact that he thinks that this should be the way to go if certain people were to continue saying the things that are making him very unhappy. It seem to have become popular to say that church devision is tragic.

In spite of this, I often get the feeling that people think church devision is tragic, but that the solution is for all other people to stay within the limits they themselves have set out. These limits are sometimes set out by how they read the Bible, or the creeds, or whatever. To bring it back to our current situation… well, I don’t really understand our current situation.

Inclusive of Exclusive. I believe that the church should be an inclusive community. I’m not going to try and defend it in this post, but this is what I believe. I’m sure if you read all the other posts in the SynchroBlog you’ll find some good thoughts on this. I guess I will have to attempt to give some thoughts on the current situation. For those not part of this circus (may I call it a circus?), it’s the classic situation different formulations of faith, and some wanting to throw others out of the church, and being willing to use any means possible. It has the added very negative dimension that it is becoming a popular debate, and people are judged not by those in relationship with them, that know them, has talked to them, struggled with them, but by the public. And therefore it’s a popularity thing as well. Sick system really. I guess what we are experiencing isn’t new, and that many have seen similar things happen in their churches. But this is the issue I currently trying to figure out (as you might have realized if you followed the posts here and here the past few days. So this is my thoughts:

  • God is to big for us to decipher, so let’s just make a little more room for more opinions
  • We create a false idea of so-called heresy by trying to convict people who are not friends, whom we do not know (see some other thoughts on this here). So spend some time to get to know those who differ from you
  • We find community in something deeper than shared dogma, we would probably all say it, let’s start living it
  • Let’s always remember that the other might have something that we could learn from them about God. It’s gonna be difficult for me to remember this with some of you, but I’ll try:-)

OK. I think I’ll stop now. I haven’t made any revolutionary progress, but this is some of my current thoughts.

Other SynchroBloggers on this topic:

Mike Bursell asks the question Inclusive or exclusive: you mean there’s a choice?”

Steve Hayes is blogging his thoughts “Christianity inclusive or exclusive?

It’s a family affair comes Jenelle Dellasandro

John Smulo will be adding his thoughts

Erin Word share some thoughts on The Politics of love

Adam Gonnerman couldn’t resist adding his thoughts

Sam Norton is also “in” As is Julie Clawson

And Sally shares her thoughts here

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8 Responses to “Inclusivity within claims of heresy”

  1. sallysjourney Says:

    exellent thoughts here.

  2. hellosaidjenelle Says:

    I appreciate your last point:

    Let’s always remember that the other might have something that we could learn from them about God.

    Newbegin says that if we can’t enter into a conversation with someone and expect to be transformed in some way, then it is not true dialogue. May we become a Family more willing to risk the dialogue.

  3. cobus Says:

    Haven’t read Newbegin yet, one of those must do’s of my life. But this sound very similar to what David Bosch said. But then again, looks like Bosch was very much influenced by Newbegin, so it would make sense.


  4. […] van Wyngaard is contemplating Inclusivity within claims of heresy Mike Bursell asks the question Inclusive or exclusive: you mean there’s a choice?” […]

  5. Steve Says:

    Cobus,

    This is a perennial debate, if I have understood Dr Mouton’s letter correctly. It is wider than the NG Kerk.

    A lot of unhappiness was caused a few years ago by the closure of the Federal Theological Seminary (Fedsem) that was used by several denominations for training clergy. I think some of the issues in that were similar.

  6. cobus Says:

    The debate has a very long history. the reason why I quoted Dr Mouton was basically to show that even those from an exptreme contervative theological stance are saying that it’s tragic when a church get split up.

    I know nothing about Fedsem


  7. […] Cobus van Wyngaard is contemplating Inclusivity within claims of heresy […]


  8. […] Cobus van Wyngaard is contemplating Inclusivity within claims of heresy […]


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