This is what I think was missing from Cornerstone’s response to the recent Soulforce visit.
Let me illustrate what I mean. When I was in Turkey a couple years ago, we visited places that few Americans have heard of, much less traveled to. Towns where poverty is the norm, Islam is the only religion, and women wear head coverings and ankle-length dresses.
How did the people in these towns reacted when they met a large group of Westerners who, by their standards, were ridiculously wealthy, immodestly dressed, and hopelessly apostate?
Hostility? Suspicion? Ambivalence?
One woman we met began cutting sprigs of rosemary from the bushes in front of her house, giving them to each of us. A 12-year-old boy scoured his family’s already-harvested vineyard till he found a cluster of grapes (one of the few missed by the harvesters) to offer us.
A woman who had not yet harvested her grapes ran to her vineyard and came back with enough for all 50 of us—she handed us about a fifth of her total harvest that day. Another family saw us hiking up the mountain on the outskirts of town. When we returned, they met us with fruit and freshly baked bread.
We were strangers. Outsiders. Infidels, even. Yet they treated us like one of their own—and better. Why? Because that’s what you do in a hospitality culture. If anyone—even your enemy—arrives on your doorstep, you welcome them into your home. They have come under your protection, and you’re responsible for whatever happens to them while they’re under your roof.
This is the culture of hospitality we encounter in the Bible. It was simply taken for granted that when a stranger came to town, regardless of who they were or where they came from, you made sure they were taken care of. Towns that didn’t? Well, they had a history of getting burnt to a crisp.
The true measure of our love for Christ is not how we treat our friends, but how we treat those we normally think of as our enemies. Let’s all stop thinking of them as enemies and start seeing them first as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
2 thoughts on “Soulforce comes to Cornerstone (more thoughts)”
I agree with your thoughts in theory, but I am wondering if you are a holding an institution of higher education – a Christian one- to the same standard as that of a church. It seems that they are different. In the end, a local church body is more “open” that a Christian university (which is good, I don’t know if I could maintain a good church gpa…)
Since I was there at CU that day, I feel like there was a both/and response. By saying “no” to the org of SF, CU deflected the orgs agenda (call me judgemental, but the agenda is stated pretty clearly on their web site)while allowing, even encouraging individuals (stus/employees) to engage individual SF riders positively. They were coached to listen with respect.
You wouldn’t likely know this since you are on other side of country, and have relied mostly what news orgs and bloggers have reported.
My concern is that you seem to suggest that the only “right” answer is to allow this group (clear agenda; will come anyway-even if you say no)to come onto campus. I would prefer to say that is one appropriate option. Another appropriate option is to say “no thank you” which, according to letter sent by Rogers, is what CU did. Both seem like ok options, and reasonable, good folks might prefer one over the other.
Hi… thanks for sharing your thoughts.
You make a very good point… I may be holding Cornerstone to the same standard that we would hold the church to. But is that a bad thing? Cornerstone is a Christian university made up of students, faculty, and administrators who are all Christians. Don’t the same biblical standards of love and compassion apply to a Christian university as would apply to a church? The students, faculty, and administrators are all part of the church. Which is greater, their obligation to the church or to a university?
I’m very glad to hear students and employees were encouraged to engage Soulforce riders positively. Thanks for sharing your observations from the event. Even though I may disagree with how Cornerstone chose to handle the visit, there’s a BIG difference between their reaction to groups like Soulforce and the reaction of extremists like Westboro Baptist Church (the “God Hates Fags” people).
Soulforce does have an agenda… there’s no doubt about that. We all have our own agendas and biases. But does that mean they are engaged in a deliberate campaign to undermine the Bible, as the letter from Cornerstone implied? I may disagree with Soulforce’s agenda, but I don’t think we need to attribute sinister motives to them. Doing so only makes it easier to demonize (perhaps unintentionally) people we are called to love.
Last… on one level I don’t necessarily think there is one “right” way to handle campus visits by Soulforce. Some colleges have asked Soulforce to stay away. Others have allowed them to engage in informal dialogue on campus. Some schools have set up official forums for dialogue. Whatever decision a school makes, I just hope they always remember that we are called to love our neighbor… and it’s not easy to love from a distance. Love assumes you are in relationship with the person.
Thanks again for sharing… good thoughts!