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The Rev. Mark Sargent Mark Sargent

Mark Sargent is a retired United Methodist minister who works in the private sector and resides in Rome, GA.

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Indiscriminate Inclusivity: Of Course!

October 21, 2009

I've been away for a bit and have missed you!  It's good to see you again here on the Day1 website.  I hope these recent weeks have been good ones for you.

I woke up this morning and did what I always do.  With my morning cup of Joe in hand, I checked email messages through the different email accounts I have.  One of those accounts is with Yahoo, so I headed to Yahoo.com to enter my mailbox.  When I arrived at the Yahoo site, I noticed the big tabs at the top of the page--"Home," "U.S.," "Business," "World," etc.  I clicked on the U.S. tab and found some new headings--"Local News," "Education," "Religion." 

"I'll click that one," I thought to myself.  And so, I did.

And, as I entered the "Religion" page on the Yahoo website, I found several news items about the Church's ongoing struggles with various issues.  Just yesterday, The Vatican announced, after a high-level closed-door meeting, that it was going to make it easier for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism, apparently because there are lots of Anglicans around the world who are opposed to the ordination of women or who are opposed to affirming and welcoming positions toward human sexuality.

Well, I read on.  And, I found a story about our Episcopalian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina, who have apparently been meeting this week in Charleston to address their concerns about what they regard to be a wrong turn by the Episcopal Church in the U.S.

As I read on, I couldn't help but be struck by what the Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina said about the need for the special meeting he had convened.

As quoted in The Associated Press, Bishop Mark Lawrence suggested that, "like and instrusive vine," false teaching are affecting the national church.  And, here's the quote that caused me to hit the "blog" button almost immediately. 

"I have called this the false Gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusivity because I see a common pattern in how the core doctrines of our faith are being systematically deconstructed." 

The intent of this blog is not to stick my United Methodist nose in the business of my Episcopalian neighhbors.  But, the conversation our Episcopalian brothers and sisters in South Carolina are having is profoundly important for each of us.

For one, the term "indiscriminate inclusivity" is redundant.  To be inclusive is to resist any forms of discrimination.  And, to be indiscriminate with regard to others is a posture of inclusiveness.  And, it is a sad day when "indiscriminate inclusivity" is used in a pejorative context.  I once heard another pastor in another city where I used to live lament the "malignancy of tolerance."  Call me crazy, but indiscriminate inclusivity and tolerance are hardly malignancies.  They are attributes of mature spirituality.

Two, in no way does indiscriminate inclusivity deconstruct any core doctrines of the Christian faith.  Quite the contrary.  To be indiscriminately inclusive is a bold way to live out the essential doctrine of Christian faith--love.  We believe that the beginning of everything is the loving heart of God, which finds expression in the loving life of Jesus, which finds further expression in the loving community formed by Jesus' Spirit, which community is called to be Jesus' very loving body in this world. 

To be indiscriminately inclusive is to be lavish, reckless, with our love.  And, rather than representing some problem to be solved, I am deeply persuaded that indiscriminate inclusivity is one of the hallmarks of the Christian life each of us is seeking daily to live.

Of course, it's hard work.  That's why they call it the "practice" of spirituality.  So, all the best to you today in your attempts to be indiscriminately inclusive!  And, if you'd like, feel free to be in touch with me at mark@marksargent.org.


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