Got an email from someone new to our church who had some questions regarding our use of Bono this past weekend. He was asking for some clarifications about our beliefs, and he included a link to website critiquing Bono. Here's part of my response (with some minor editing).
Thanks for your questions. I’ll try to answer them as well as I can.
Our church doctrine aligns with that of the Evangelical Free Church of America. You can explore our doctrinal statement and distinctives at www.efca.org. Beyond that we do not align ourselves with any particular political party or political policy (e.g., we don’t have a position on the debt forgiveness Bono speaks of). You can explore my convictions on political policies and the church at my blog (www.henrywilliams.typepad.com) by clicking on the "Politics" category on the right hand column.
The website you linked is a fundamentalist website. We are not fundamentalists, and I would expect a fundamentalist website to disagree with much of what we stand for and do as evangelicals. I suspect I would disagree with a majority of what they write about even though we share the same basic doctrines regarding Christ. There’s a lot of history there that you may not be aware of, but fundamentalists are usually separatists. To illustrate, check out this article from the same website vilifying Billy Graham... They also have articles condemning Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Bottom line is that I wouldn’t put much credence in anything published on this website. If you agree with that kind of perspective, you will not be comfortable in our church. On the other hand, you simply may not be aware of these kinds of distinctions and nuances. Most people are not.
I’m sure there are several things I would disagree with Bono on in terms of his beliefs, politics, proposed solutions and lifestyle choices. But I wholeheartedly agree with his concern to mobilize more people (including Christians) to help address “stupid poverty” and the AIDS crisis, his call for justice, his proclamation of the gospel, and his calling the church to account on many of these matters. I think he’s a good ally or, at the very least, an excellent co-belligerent (i.e., someone who might not be on the same side on some major issues but with whom you can work as an ally on an issue you agree on).
Let me add a few things I didn't write about in the email response.
There's a lot of criticism of just about everything on the internet. I've addressed this in my messages at times only because I've seen the damage it does to people's psyches and souls when they feast on these messages of hate and bitter critiques of other believers or when they're exposed to it and don't have the knowledge or discernment to know what to do with it. I know that most of the folks in our church wouldn't agree with much of the agenda of most of these people who are slamming Christian leaders and churches on the internet for not being pure enough according to their standards. Please consider the source before you buy into their arguments. Their starting point, their biases and their research methods impact their conclusions.
And if I might meddle a bit... If you have a personality that tends to lean in their direction, I have a few suggestions.
- Guard your heart.
- Consider Bono's advice to "chill out."
- Pursue joy. Too many Christians are absolutely miserable people to be around. Don't be one of them (unless God has specifically called you to be a Jeremiah, I suppose).
- In taking a stand for truth, be biblically informed.
- In battle, choose your targets carefully and make allies where you can.