Yesterday, we posted an open letter to City Church. The post has received thousands of views from all over the country. We have heard many encouraging words and thankfully, many conversations have been started because of this letter. But there has been one question/concern that has been raised in a variety of places that deserves attention: why not interact personally with City Church? Below are the reasons why the open letter was the avenue we chose:
- Do a quick Google search on “City Church San Francisco” and this is what you find: click here. City Church’s letter is public domain. Whether City Church intended it or not, a variety of parties are engaging their letter. From the Washington Post to obscure bloggers, everyone is talking about City Church. This is a conversation happening right now. There is no biblical reason why a group of concerned pastors, who love the RCA and the church, cannot share their opinion on this decision. In fact, we felt compelled to add to this conversation. All we did was to respond to a public letter publicly.
- Since this is not a letter about a person or a relationship but about a public decision of a church, we find no reason not to talk about it publicly. We are seeking to be helpful. Notice that in the letter there are no “lines drawn” or accusations being thrown publicly. Instead, we want to encourage City Church to answer these questions. And we want to give courage to those who hold to an orthodox position to stand for the sake of the gospel. There is no sin in that.
- Public conversations about theological disagreements are nothing new. Again and again, throughout history, there has been profound disagreements and discussions around theological ideas. Matter of fact, it is through these discussions that the truth is defended. This is no different. We have questions. City Church has some of the brightest leaders in the RCA; they can handle questions.
- We know that City Church is having many personal, private conversations with people in their relational spheres. They are also speaking to leaders within their Classis and on a denominational level. We are thankful for that. We feel no need to be a part of those conversations. What we do want to do is put out into the public conversation the questions we think need to be answered. This is not to be intrusive but we know that this denomination has a tendency to not deal with painful areas of disagreements when they happen. We would rather this not happen here.
- The RCA needs to have this conversation. There is a huge fracture in our denomination. Many good leaders just want to move beyond it and do ministry. We get it. So do we. But we have passed the buck too long, allowed silence to be the answer for over a decade. This won’t work anymore. We can either have an open, denomination-wide conversation like mature leaders, or watch the ship sink. There is no sitting on the side lines anymore.
- Most importantly, the gospel is at stake. We believe that if you get the good news wrong for the LGBTQ community, then you very well might lose it for everyone. We don’t want this to happen. We are concerned that City Church is moving away from Jesus and the gospel for the sexually broken. We do not want this to happen! God does not need us to defend his cause but he demands that we have an answer for the hope that is within us.
One final thought: we can treat each other with respect, dignity and love and still “go at it.” The idea that we cannot disagree publicly because it’s not nice has nothing to do with the Bible and more to do with a culture that has forgotten how to disagree.
We know this won’t make everyone happy but at least it gives you a glimpse into why we did what we did.