The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.I thought his name sounded familiar, Chad Holtz. Lo and behold, Chad and I had a chat a few months ago on this very blog. It was a post about Heaven. I don't believe in it (or in any form of life after death). I stated my thoughts on a post that I am rather proud of, If there is no life after death, are we to be pitied?
Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow's Chapel in Henderson.
Chad didn't think I was being a "good steward of the mysteries" and blogged about my post at his place, Stewards of God's Mysteries. The irony is that Chad lost his job because his church folks didn't think that he was being a good steward of God's mysteries. This is his latest post, The Truth Can Set You Free...and Get You Fired.
"God's mysteries" are a tricky business and so is "Truth". What is superstition for one person is dogmatic truth for another. I am thankful that in some circles Christianity is evolving.
In the meantime, I wish Chad the best. Even as he and I had our differences, I am grateful for ministers like Chad who get fired (or otherwise nudged to move on) for telling their truth. The Church needs more gutsy preachers. I hope he finds a call that respects not only freedom of the pulpit, but freedom of the Facebook as well.
The heart of authentic ministry is one's freedom of conscience. It is important for clergy to be able to express doubts about what is no longer credible for them. In so doing, they are also expressing what their parishioners also feel and they are setting an example of the importance of freedom of thought. That freedom isn't granted. It is taken. It likely will involve a cost.
I am impressed that MSNBC picked up Chad's "heresy".
The best I can ever get (whine, whine) is the LayMAN.