Saturday, September 7, 2013

Good Marginal Thinking - Brian McLaren at Christianity Today

Every system and community is in continual need of renewal, which almost always comes from the margins.  The community that excludes those at the margins cuts off the resources of growth while building resistance to the renewal that it needs.Being, thinking, looking or acting differently from the majority can push one to the margins. Reflective Christians; those who doubt what everyone else takes for granted, feel different pretty often in churches and therefore feel marginalized pretty often. It is a process that can be wounding and stigmatizing. Reflective Christians dwell in a tension between remaining silent, which feels dishonest and frustrating, and raising questions, which often makes them feel like an "other" or "outlier."

Throughout institutional church history, Reflective Christians have often found that they had no place or future in the church of their time. Two of the most transformational figures would be Martin Luther, who doubted what the church taught about indulgences, and Galileo, who observed that a heliocentric universe contradicted the church's paleocentric teaching. Both were marginalized in their time by forces seeking to control the church from the top-down. More recent examples would include Martin Luther King Jr, Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day and Wendell Berry.

Every system and community is in continual need of renewal, which almost always comes from the margins. The community that excludes those at the margins cuts off the resources of growth while building resistance to the renewal that it needs. Reflective Christians should be listened to attentively and given space to be who they are. They need leaders to visibly stand between them and their most vocal critics, the reactionary forces of boundary maintenance and exclusion.

If communities amputate their margins, they commit the same error that the chief priests and scribes did when a needed, new voice of renewal spoke the truth to power from the margins.

The full article is available here