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"An offensive gospel"

Wed 5 Sep 2012 In: Worth Checking Out View at Wayback View at NDHA

The billboard at the centre of the controversy Reverend Clay Nelson from Auckland’s St-Matthew-in-the-City “has a bit of a rant” in response to critics of the Hobson St church’s latest billboard, which features a lesbian wedding cake topper and says “we don’t care who is on top”. “There will be those who enjoy it, who share it, and smile. There will be those who affirm its political or theological stance, and applaud,” Nelson says of the billboard. “There will be those for whom it is a sign of hope, that they are not alone in the spiritual wilderness, and there are churches that will companion them. “There will be those for whom Church has always been part of the problem, never part of the solution, and they will wrestle with the dissonance of a church taking their side. And they will smile wryly when the mainstream institutions of respectability criticise St Matthew’s. And they will say, ‘Welcome to our world’. “Then there are those who like St Matthew’s, like that we are different, like that we do billboards, but don’t like this particular one. They keep their criticism muted less they be misunderstood. But they usually tell me. That’s okay. I like some billboards better than others too. Do you say something rather than nothing even when the something isn’t ideal? We usually come down on the side of something. “Then there are our detractors. We have erred and strayed and they will use bible verses to correct us. Most have no concept of the Bible being anything other than a God written road code for all time. Some detractors will object to the style of our message – not valuing the sacred, being ‘smutty’, ‘pretentious’, ‘worldly’… Then there are those who tell us in no uncertain terms what they think about our theology, our politics, our parentage, our after-death prospects, and our imminent-death prospects. Christians can do hate mail like you wouldn’t believe! “Then there are bishops who, being accountable to the whole Church, want to distance themselves from us less anyone is unaware that St Matthew’s represents a religious minority. I understand that. The bishops world is a different world, and they will work for change within it. They probably prefer to be silent, but the forces of conservatism will be baying for blood. Our blood. They want us silenced. They want us out. They want the Church to be pure, sacred, unsoiled by the secular spirituality they rightly accuse us of harbouring. ‘Get out of our religious world’, they say. “So this is a strange place: Loved by those on the edge, even when they don’t understand our faith. Loved by the dissidents and free-thinkers, even when we fumble and don’t get it quite right. Hated by those who want every Christian to believe and act as they do. Hated by the custodians of convention who want the Church to remain a private charity club. “And from our religious colleagues we receive some support, some tolerance, lots of silence, and lots of ‘you-make-our-life-difficult’. We are the uncontrollable and problematic teenagers in the family. “It’s a strange place to be called and accountable to the margins.” Watch a video below: - 5th September 2012


First published: Wednesday, 5th September 2012 - 10:53am

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