In Saturday morning's Advisory Forum we finally took on the Belhar. I'm not at liberty to say how things turned out, but I would like to take the time to say how things went. I know that I admitted in the last "Open Swim" that I would have to learn how to swim with others who have been welcomed into the pool. That was decidedly more difficult in the session during which we discussed the Belhar Confession.
I had expected to encounter objections to the confession concerning misapplication, namely homosexuality. I think that fear is poor motivation and believe that God can protect his church, but I understand the concern. What I had not expected to encounter was the blatant hypocrisy of those who stand so firmly on God's Word when it comes to homosexuality, but seem to relativize the texts that speak about poverty and wealth that are highlighted by the Belhar Confession.
One consistent objection revolves around the idea that God is especially concerned about the poor. I've addressed this in a post on the Church Herald website, but what left me unnerved was the seeming inability to acknowledge the presence of texts that say "woe to you who are rich," the Jesus came to preach the good news to...the poor. That God gave to the...poor to be rich in faith. "But God loves everyone!" I heard. Absolutely, but as broken people of God we do not and, thankfully, God does not let those who are cast out by us go overlooked. To know that God is with me always, but especially when I am down and out, is of great comfort.
I believe that the Belhar is more important now than I did before the forum. No pastor should be allowed to deny that God is a God of justice, unity, and reconciliation, nor should they be allowed to relativize texts into a hollow spiritualism. A standard takes a stand. In my next post I'll share some thoughts on why I think we should adopt it.