On the door

th-12Martin Luther had his 95 Theses. We have our Declaration of Independence. And the Catch has its Declaration for a Marketplace Christian. Every decade or so, and depending on the current tension and cultural significance, it becomes necessary for me to redefine the key elements of truth for the time.

Though much of our Declaration for a Marketplace Christian is timeless, much of it is also a reaction to a Christian subculture that defined faith for many and got a number of things wrong which needed to be corrected. Today, that subculture is waning in its significance, and we are beyond reacting to something; we are needing a road map – a document that tells us what is essential for the beginning of the 21st century. This is not by any means because truth changes. The truth remains the same yesterday, today and forever. But there are aspects of the truth that are especially applicable to a culture and generation, just as there are aspects of truth that each given generation misses or misconstrues. That is what this little manifesto is trying to do.

It is a tall order, and it is in process, and for that reason we welcome your comments. When we feel like it’s ready, we will nail it on a door somewhere on our website, but right now, it’s just a Catch, eager for your reflection and hopefully helpful to you just as it is.

The Gospel of Welcome: a brief manifesto

Our world is a hostile, unwelcome environment. Fragmented pieces of nations, religions and ethnic groups are scattered around the globe and there is nothing holding them together. Everyone’s isolation drives them further into themselves where the only way anyone can make sense of the world is through their own eyes and their own tribe, which in all cases is always 100% right while everyone else is 100% wrong. This is why we have the Israelis and the Palestinian conflict; the Islamic fundamentalists and secular Islam; and in this country, Ferguson, Missouri; immigration hostilities; gay marriage and the church; reproductive rights of women being debated and challenged; and the ever-widening gulf between Republicans and Democrats. In all of these conflicts there is no room for dialogue. Understanding is a forgotten word, and standing in another’s shoes is a sentimental concept in an old Bob Dylan song.

Into this divided and hostile world comes the Gospel of Welcome. It is the gospel for these times. As truth always does, it flies in the face of current convention opening its arms wide to people of all faiths, sects, religions, and no religion. It doesn’t insist on being right, and extends grace and understanding to all. Its proponents are sinners who know when they’re wrong, just as when they are right, they know it is because of God, not them. And–totally unheard of in this present day–people of the Gospel of Welcome stand in the shoes of others, and see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they feel. They find it impossible to judge anyone Christ died to forgive, and Christ died to forgive everyone.

The Gospel of Welcome is grace turned outward. Grace received must, by sheer definition, be grace extended to all. It is the truth for this time and time forward. It is love without judgment, acceptance without qualification, trust without doubt, belonging without reservation. It’s what the world needs now.

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5 Responses to On the door

  1. sarah says:

    first line, how about a “broken” world rather than “hostile” , as your next line speaks of “fragmented”…just a thought which jumped out to me on first reading…

    • jwfisch says:

      A very good suggestion, but I still think I want “hostile” because the point about the fragments is that they are warring against each other.

  2. TimC says:

    2nd paragraph, 2nd line, I would suggest: It is our expression of the gospel, the really good news, for these times.

  3. Cynthia Vera says:

    Yes, and Amen! The path for us to move forward in is shining bright in this dark world! Let’s all nail it to the walls!
    Cynthia Vera

  4. Mark Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John and all of the Catch members just wanted to “say” I about stood out of my chair and let out a big Amen when I read this: “the Gospel of Welcome…It doesn’t insist on being right, and extends grace and understanding to all. Its proponents are sinners…” (Has a lil tear fell from my cheek) I love it!!!

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