DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

June 5, 2009

                                                           

Wherever It Pleases

I was in a gathering of a bunch of ministers years ago. One of the ministers asked if I was “Bornagain.” I told him, “No, but I am ‘born again’.”

First, this minister thought I was just being a smart aleck and maybe he was right. But, second, it probably did not surprise him at all that a United Church of Christ pastor was NOT claiming to be “bornagain.” We UCC ministers are sometimes suspect for not believing in certain touchstones of modern Christianity. Being “bornagain” is not as emphasized in the United Church of Christ but being “born again” is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. I am sincere when I say that I am “born again” but will admit that I am not “bornagain.”

My minister friend used the term “bornagain” as an adjective, like a Bornagain-Christian. It describes a certain type of Christian. But, I understand “born again” to be two words not one. I understand it to be born again, not bornagain. I understand it as a verb, not an adjective. I understand all Christians to be born again, not just certain Christians. We are born of the Spirit. When you ask are you “bornagain,” it separates Christians into an us-versus-them. To that minister, I am certain that I did not fit his description of being “bornagain.” I have the deepest respect for his tradition and his understanding of the term “bornagain,” but I am probably not in his camp and he would be quite hesitant to have me in his camp. We do not believe the same things about sin; do not believe the same thing concerning the sinful nature of humans; do not believe the same thing concerning marriage and divorce; do not believe the same things as him concerning abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, war, women in the

 

pulpit and last but not least, I probably belong to the wrong political party. One time I had a bornagain preacher take offense because of the city in which I did my seminary studies for four years. You can bet, after I found THAT out, I worked the name “Berkeley” into the conversation with him whenever I could. To him, it was like fingernails on a blackboard. He would cringe whenever I said the name of the city. (I know; that was real mature of me.)

This “bornagain” or “born again” stuff is pretty lethal. While this term may be meant to unite Christians today, it is used by many to divide us into various types of Christians. As we can see, even I play that game. I am one type of “born again” and my minister was another type. And yet there is so much within his tradition that is good, just as there is within mine.

But, I suppose there is an irony here in the midst of it all. Jesus says, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

I didn’t write that, the Gospel of John is recording the words of Jesus…and in that case, both my minister friend and I are wrong. We think we can put Christians into boxes, but we can’t, for the Spirit, like the wind, blows wherever it pleases. We have not yet learned to control the forces of the wind and fortunately, neither can we control the Spirit.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing