Posted by: pendrops | July 14, 2008

gray matters

I often don’t have too much trouble admitting that I’ve got it wrong. It’s become easier these days, as black-and-white, all-or-nothing scales fall from my eyes to reveal a beautiful world of gray. All sorts of possibilities wait for me in the gray, one of which is freedom. Refreshing freedom. Freedom in discovering that there are countless non-essential type matters to which several “right” answers may be found.

It’s just ironic that one of the people who showed that to me was Greg Boyd.  If you had known me eight years ago, you would know that I despised Greg Boyd.  I didn’t know him; I only knew what I had heard about him through other bullheaded college co-eds like myself.  It was all “Greg Boyd is a heretic” and “Did you know Greg Boyd doesn’t think God is sovereign?”

As I stood my unreasonable ground firmly in the Calvinist, T.U.L.I.P.-sniffing camp, I lashed out at those who aligned themselves with Boyd and his teaching.  Having very little clue as to what his true convictions were, I smeared his name with friends and laughed with those who feigned to know something about his beliefs.

Then, a couple years ago, Boyd’s name came across my path. I think it started with his book, Letters From a Skeptic, three-years-worth of correspondence between Boyd and his unbelieving father. Not long after, I heard Boyd teach at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. His teaching was vibrant, full of love, and overflowing with passion for God. Finally, I stumbled on an article that revealed more about Boyd’s heart for God and for others.

Today, I sit here halfway through my first podcast from Woodland Hills Church in Minnesota, where Boyd pastors. He is a loose cannon; his ADD-ness making him hard to follow at times, his speed-talk hilarious as he trips over words to get everything in his brain past his lips, his intelligence refreshing as it flows out tempered with compassion.

And I was wrong.

Wrong about Greg Boyd. Wrong about Calvinism and Arminianism (which I will avoid discussing altogether for the rest of my life…something to do with resounding gongs and clanging cymbals). Wrong about so many things I always thought were utterly indisputable and solidly concrete. In fact, it is concrete that has finally been broken up, jackhammer-style, in my heart in recent days. Thanks, in part, to Greg Boyd.

I mean, how can I dispute Boyd when he says this:

By definition you can only call ‘Christian’ what looks like Jesus. That’s what the word ‘Christian’ means. Christ-like. And since Jesus never voted and never weighed in on those issues, you can’t call your particular opinion about how we should weigh on those issues or if we should weigh on those issues the ‘Christian’ way to weigh on those issues.

Love the unloveable.  That is Christian because Jesus did that.

Forgive people really quick.  That’s Christian because Jesus did that and He told us to do the same.

Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, don’t engage in violence. That’s Christian because Jesus did that.

Don’t judge sinners, don’t look down on others. That’s Christian because Jesus did that.

Befriend people that society has walls against you befriending, reach out across racial lines. That’s Christian because Jesus did that.

Feed the hungry, care about the homeless, visit people in prison, serve drug addicts, give generously to the poor, heal the sick, free people from demonic oppression.

Proclaim the good news to everybody.  That’s Christian because Jesus did that.

That is Christian. That is the Kingdom. But what you think ‘Caesar’ should do, or who’s going to run what, or what policy you think should be placed: these undoubtedly are right and smart.  But they are not Christian. So don’t give your position more clout by attaching His name to it. And don’t pay a whole lot of attention to folks who do that.

I’m glad I was mistaken about Greg Boyd.  I’m glad I’ve given myself permission to hear all kinds of opinions on all sorts of things, opinions I’m right and wrong about. I’m glad about so many old lies unweaved, untangled. It’s refreshing out here in the gray.



  1. Thanks for your honesty, it’s refreshing to read something like this. I’ve been a fan of Greg Boyd for a while – hearing his teaching on the kingdom for the first time (on cd) was a transformative moment and ruined me for anything less. He’s so consistently Jesus-focussed in everything he preaches.

    Actually, the real reason I’m commenting is because it’s interesting that I just recently linked to a clip of this same sermon on my blog – and chose exactly the bit you did!

    Hope you enjoyed the rest of the sermon!

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