Readers of my blog will remember that George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God pressured the Society for Pentecostal Studies to disinvite me from their March, 2010 meeting in Minneapolis. They didn’t cow.
Well, it seems that Wood recently signed the Covenant for Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together, a statement initiated by Sojourners in the wake of Glen Beck’s ranting about “hammering” Jim Wallis. But now Wood has recanted, and is asking that his name be removed from the statement.
It seems, according to a statement of an Assemblies of God spokesperson, that when Wood signed the statement at a recent meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals, he thought that the phrase, “the unity we have in the body of Christ” referred exclusively to evangelicals. When he found out that “the body of Christ” also includes “people who are supportive of gay marriage and abortion rights,” well, that was just too large of a tent for him.
Jill Carroll of the Houston Chronicle rhetorially asks Wood,
I’m not sure why civility should be such a problem, even with people with whom we vehemently disagree on matters of faith. Even if some who call themselves Christians – or “claim the name of Christ” as the statement says – don’t qualify as “Christian” by our standards, shouldn’t we still be civil with them and when we speak about them?
Are we only to be civil toward those who think exactly like us?
But here’s what I find especially ironic. At SPS, the way that North Central College and the others who opposed my appearance protested my presence (they referred to it as a “silent protest”) was to have a computer terminal at the registration table at which people could sign the Manhattan Declaration. And after my address, the Manhattan Declaration came up as part of the Question and Response, including one audience member delivering a homily-styled-as-a-question about his support for the three elements of the Declaration: opposition to abortion; opposition to same sex marriage; and support of religious liberty.
I responded by saying that I have come to find the signing of declarations and statements to be redonkulous (that’s not a direct quote). While I hope I would have had the courage to sign the Barmen Declaration, I don’t believe there’s been a statement since (not even the Lausanne Covenant, my missional friends! that is any more powerful than the gospel itself. Plus, as Wood found, these signatures can at times get us in hot water.
So count me as a participant of the covenant we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s a good enough statement for me.