Dear Parish Family,
I was in a conversation with someone last week, and in the course of the conversation I used the term "obstructionist." The person asked me to explain the term. I will do so in the course of this letter, but I want to talk about a few terms; some of which are "newer" and some are "older" in order to address some of the challenges that we are facing both in our church and our culture today.
In the 1960's, a term that began to be used, and I believe that I heard in the 1970's is: deconstruction. "Deconstruction" is the "tearing down" of traditional assumptions and some literature/history from the past. Some of those assumptions represent "reality." However, what "reality" became is: "what I believe is real" or, "real for me." What happened during this era was that there was no "stable" or common reference to measuring truth. Oftentimes this was in order to eliminate anything "metaphysical" (in the case of the Christian, this can mean "spiritual") because many became "empiricists" based on "what I observe and therefore must be true." Another word for this is "existentialist" i.e., that which I have experienced and is therefore real for me.
Sometimes, in a cultural setting, this could be based on "ethnocentricity." What is true for my "class" or "my people" or "my peers." There are two areas that were affected by this: Creationism used to be taught in schools as a possible origin of the universe. Now, it is only the “Big Bang Theory" because the belief is: there can't be a "metaphysical" (spiritual) source of the universe i.e., God did not create the universe. In both church circles and in our culture, examples of this would be the "sexual revolution" and "choice" with procreation; the fallout of "deconstructionism."
In the latter part of the 20th century, we saw a phenomena that was a result of this cultural/moral/belief change because of deconstructionism: "Revisionism." Revisionism is the rewriting of documents, often in the political, historical, or "religious" world. Revisionism is a departure from authoritative or generally accepted doctrine, theory, or practice. The result of revisionism can be seen in the rewriting of history, laws, literature resulting in a change of morality or other beliefs. We also see this in the news, where commentary based on one's perspective becomes "the way it was" or "the way it is" because the past was wrong (again, from their perspective; without necessarily understanding the past or understanding the perspective of what was written and why; merely because it doesn't fit their experience or world view).
Now, to "obstructionism:" the person or group deliberately delaying or preventing progress. We need to clarify "progress" here: progress can be good when it comes to dealing with challenges like a pandemic, the economy, or dealing with "natural disasters." However, progress is sometimes moving forward in a way that is "destructive" because of the morality involved; where the "progress" is really to have more "freedom" which, from a Christian perspective, may really result in "bondage" because people become "slaves to sin." Many of the areas where we see "obstructionism" today are in legislative bodies or businesses. A prime example today would be how Kodak, Motorola, Polaroid and other businesses confronted by the digital and computer age struggled or went under.
Unfortunately, what has become lost is three Biblical/Christian traits that were common with Jesus, the early church, and sometimes, through history, when there was a "spiritual revival:" edification (the Building up of the Body; e.g., Ephesians 4:12). When edification is part of a "Body,” there is, as the following verse in Ephesians 4 points out: "unity of faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, spiritual maturity,” which is desperately needed in the church, and in the culture, which the church can influence. Ephesians 4:15 & 16 then says, "But, speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into Him who is the head; into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love." The words that jump out to me: truth, love, unity, builds up. These are so lacking today as people in our country have departed what was considered "normal" for our country: Christian beliefs and practices. Edification, which is a result of knowing Jesus, seeking to grow in grace and love, seeking the truth, learning what it means to sacrifice (living "agape love"), living a holy life, and being willing to share this "gospel" with others.
Some aspects of our culture needed to change! There were, at one time, practices that even Christians claimed were clearly not Biblical and loving. But where our country, some businesses, some government, and even some of our churches are today with regard to "deconstructionism,” "revisionism" and "obstructionism" is tearing our churches and country apart.
What our churches and our country need right now is a "spiritual revival" where the Church takes the lead with seeking Jesus with the whole of our being: to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength;" where we take the lead in loving our neighbor as ourselves, sacrificially; where we seek unity, not compromising what it means to be holy, but with "speaking the truth in love;" where we learn to "edify" even by confronting lovingly, false beliefs and practices, and learn to live in unity.
Amidst the current climate of our culture because of the pandemic, the economy, the racial unrest and political upheaval, we, as Christians need to "be the Church," the Body of Christ, and live His life and carry His gospel to those around us. People are looking for answers; the answers are found in loving Jesus, living for Him, seeking His truth in His Word, loving others and proclaiming the life changing gospel to a world that is stuck in deconstruction, revisionism, and obstruction. Love Him with the whole of our being; love others with His love, live His gospel and share His gospel, and maybe we can cause a spiritual revival that will change our country!
With love, in Christ,