Having a bit of down time after doing the camp meeting marathon in my conference, I finally have a little time again to get some thoughts on paper. We had an awesome time at the Carolina Conference Camp Meeting at Lake Junaluska, NC last week. We had the blessing of hearing many great speakers like Jose Rojas, Jack Blanco, and Gordon Bietz, among others. However, one of the messages that stuck with me was what Dan Jackson, NAD President, told us at our morning meeting on Monday.
“The next 16 months have the potential to bring our church together closer than ever, or tear us apart.”
He was speaking about the main challenges facing our church in the near future with many important issues on deck for the 2015 GC Session in San Antonio. The next few weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts on several key issues our church is facing but for the next two weeks, I’ll play “good cop/bad cop” by myself on one aspect of the divide that our church faces. Namely, the “liberal” vs. “conservative” labels that people throw out there. This week, I’ll share why I think labels are helpful and next week, I’ll share why labels are the worst thing that can exist for our current predicament.
So why are labels helpful?
Well, simply put, they help to categorize the complex world that we see around us. As human beings, we have an intense desire for the world to make “sense” to us. One of the ways this is done is by identifying similar traits and patterns that exist among different categories and provide a name for what we observe with our eyes.
Imagine our world where there were no labels. Nice, isn’t it? That is, until we have to provide a sketch for a crime. It reminds me of an old skit from MADtv.
So as far as our church goes, labels are helpful because it gives us some context from which we base ourselves. The most common labels in the church are “liberal” and “conservative.” In some ways, l believe these labels are helpful because they help us know what we are to avoid.
I have always found the following diagram from my undergrad very helpful for keeping a balance. It doesn’t matter which side of the ditch he can get you on; if Satan can get you pinned down and arguing against the “other side,” then you’re already messed up. So what do you think? Are labels helpful? Is this graph helpful?