My former congregation prided itself on being warm and friendly. Then one Sunday Michael came to worship, and we discovered the limits of our welcome. Michael had Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary physical and vocal tics. At first, there were no signs of our visitor's disability; Michael seemed rather quiet.
Paul tells us to
"resolve" never to put a hindrance to the gospel before another person—and resolve
is what it takes. By initiating a conversation about hell, Rob Bell is putting his reputation on the line.
Head out on a tour of the castles of medieval Europe and you'll quickly catch on to a castle's three key features. What you see first is the bailey—a large area surrounded by a substantial wall where most of the population lived and most of the life of the community was conducted.
I feel sorry for those who never
got to hear Peter Gomes work a congregation while a biblical text worked
him. He was a teacher, raconteur and best-selling
author. But his primary vocation was as a preacher.
Gretta Vosper, a United Church of Canada pastor in Toronto, is prepared to fight a process that could defrock her. An avowed atheist, she maintains that behavior, not doctrine, should be the foundation of the church. She has the backing of her current members, but about 100 of the 150 people in her congregation left in 2008 after she did away with the Lord’s Prayer. A review process has been launched by the United Church’s General Council to examine whether Vosper has violated her ordination vows, which include affirming belief in a triune God (Globe and Mail, August 5).