Thursday, December 20, 2007

No Neutrality Allowed?

I once thought I was going to be tossed out of a church for heresy. It didn't actually go beyond odd looks, but it was uncomfortable.

Some friends were teaching a Sunday school class, and they had a spare session because they finished the book early. (Actually, they thought they had two.) Since there was a lot of talk about eschatology, they asked me to explain the different views. I decided to start small and build: the first session was about different premill views, and the second was supposed to be on different views of the Millennium. The second was pre-empted by an all-church function, which was just as well: it might've caused brain hemorrhages.

So what shocking thing did I do for the premills? I simply took the first part of 1 Thess 2 and explained how different groups interpreted it: pretribs, midtribs, pre-wraths, and posttribs, in that order. I wasn't playing favorites; I gave strengths and weaknesses for each view. But that was seen as proselyting for some view or other. I'm still not sure which one I was supposedly promoting.

Part of the problem was that the assistant pastor's wife was there for some reason. (Yes, I know: I always wondered why the pastor needed an assistant wife too.) She was Not Pleased, and it spread. The worst problem came when she flat-out denied that pretribs have anxiety about finding themselves alone unexpectedly. (This is the "Left Behind" syndrome, where you think everyone else has gone in the Rapture and you didn't get called out.) I know for a fact that this anxiety exists, having experienced it myself and having heard other pretribs allude to it.

I decided not to defend the point. It turned out I didn't have to: an elderly lady laughed and said that she had been there personally and knew many others who did too. Oops!

Could I be blamed for that? Could be and was.

So what's the lesson here? In some areas neutrality is impossible. You're either One of Us or One of Them, and One of Us wouldn't go talking about Them as if they were anything but wrong-headed idiots. The real downside is that by being neutral you wind up being One of Them to everyone, which is a lonely position.

It's still worth it.

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