Monday, June 23, 2008

Pendulum Theory

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about pendulums and how they relate to our actions. On any issue, there is the correct understanding represented by the balanced pendulum (marked C for center). There also exists a pair of opposite extremes (marked L & R for left and right). For example, let's say the correct position on abortion (C) is that it is wrong. A doctor might rebel against this by increasing the amount of abortions he performs (thus becoming an extremist, L). Another man might militate against the doctor by blowing up an abortion clinic (thus becoming an extremist, R). In this example, both extremes are to be avoided.

As a pastor, I think a lot about how the church should act (C). I see the way many Christians currently act (Some act within the L and some within the R). Some in the L position think the L position is right. Others in the L position, however, are just acting like L is right in an attempt to bring the R position back to the middle. And vice versa. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a person thinks L is right or if they are just trying to shock R back to C. For example, the authors of 'Pagan Christianity' may very well be taking position L for different reasons. Viola may think L is the correct position whereas Barna may simply be arguing for L in order to bring R back to C (just a guess).

But lately, as I think about how Jesus lived His life on earth, I don't view Him as arguing for L or R, but only for C (Granted, the C position sometimes sounded like an extreme position to take based on how far L or R had removed themselves from the center). I feel like God is teaching me that to act/argue for L or R just to move R or L back to C is really a show of impatience. If we are willing to be faithful to C and humble about ourselves, we will act/argue for C even when we're passionately against L and/or R without resorting to a faux support for R and/or L.


Jo said...

I feel like I might be one of the "some people"....

You've got me thinking about the motivation of my reactions now.

This is a nice gentle reminder to seek balance.

Jilliefl1 said...

The sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
It’s also available on Frank is also blogging now at