The Englewood Review of Books
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Paperback:Paraclete Press, 2019
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I wish congregations would be more attentive to these four ideals than many of them are currently. While we are often called to truth and love, what would it feel like to be invited into beauty and life as equally important? I think that would transform both the congregation and the lives of its members.
The place to start, I think, would be for the leadership (and I don’t just mean the pastors) to unite behind these four ideals as guiding principles. By that, I don’t mean supplanting or superseding books of discipline or order, but by using them to illuminate them. Does everything we do model beauty, truth, life, and love— from worship services, to sermons, to religious education, to how we decide which programs to offer, to what outreach we’ll do in the community, and so on? If a congregation would model those principles, then I believe that the members will come to see them as central to their own discernment—and feel supported when they make discernment decisions based on beauty, truth, life, and love.
I also believe that using these as guiding principles will reduce instances of congregational conflict or tension. That’s because these four, if present, will not be in disharmony with each other. Instead, they create a unity that is satisfying and in harmony with what scripture teaches and the lives of the saints illustrate. I am not naïve enough to think that following them is a cure-all. But I do think that if we call our community of faith to live and act, with divine assistance, in accordance with these spiritual values, then much of the tension or conflict we have would disappear as we grow into a deeper life of harmony with each other and grow deeper into the life together God has in mind for us.
- From our interview with Brent Bill
in our Advent 2019 magazine issue