A New Via Media: Dr. Duane Arnold, PhD

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144 Responses

  1. Scooter Jones says:

    It already has a name, Phoenix Preacher 😉

  2. Michael says:


    I don’t think that will fly… 🙂
    I do think what Duane has laid out is a almost perfect articulation of where I’ve seen things going after all these years watching the changes in the church.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    #1 Scooter

    I must admit, many here at PxP were on my mind as I wrote this…

  4. dusty says:

    Still praying for you Michael.

  5. Michael says:

    Thank you, Dusty…getting better…

  6. Owen says:

    I have to echo Scooter’s thought….. I think this group is fairly well described by Duane’s writings.
    “This new via media does not have a name (and I hope it doesn’t get one!). It is not a movement to be categorized by the press, religious or secular.”

    Well said. And I think sometimes the labels and categories end up being a source of pride, or at the very least they divert one’s focus from where it should be.

  7. Owen says:

    Also still praying for you , Michael – for physical healing, and for your grief.

  8. Michael says:


    I think I’d add one more distinctive that I hope I can articulate semi coherently.

    From a clerical standpoint, we are more concerned about pastoral care than doctrinal statements.
    This is not to say that doctrine is unimportant…but that the application of it in a pastoral manner is more so.

  9. Michael says:

    Thank you, Owen…I have one last round of appointments ,then I hope I’m good to go…

  10. Kevin H says:


    As you know, I think this is excellent. I identify with much of it and I do think it fits in a lot of ways as to what happens here at the Phoenix Preacher, as others have already noted.

    The voices closer to the extremes (both in the church and the culture at large) seemingly have had a significant influence on the church and our culture over the last several years, and especially this past year. Hopefully, those “Via Media” can set forth a more reasonable and fruitful path that others start to follow to a greater extent.

  11. Michael says:


    I think you’re one of this new “via media”… you’re part of an organized independent group, yet are very open to the “catholic” church.

  12. Michael says:

    The question I have when thinking through this proposition is how will such a group survive and thrive in todays political climate?

    Then I think that we need the same kind of via media in that realm…and a worldview centered on Christian ethics and justice may grow out of this as well…

  13. Kevin H says:

    And maybe if enough of us get on the path Via Media and are characterized by the positive and good and beneficial things you describe, we will come to be known by a name. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were known in this way as the Church?

  14. Michael says:

    Amen, Kevin…

  15. Owen says:


    Or maybe even the Body.

  16. pstrmike says:

    I agree with Scooter @1 😉

    Great work Duane in identifying things that have been resonating in my own heart for quite some time. My wife and I went to SEA with another couple recently and I shared some of the things that I have been reading from the Cappadocians. They responded, “wait a minute! Who are we?” My response was “we are Christians.” I proceeded to tell them that the Body of Christ is much bigger than our tribe and we do well to engage with all of the Body of Christ. This helps us sharpen our understanding of the faith. They got it!

  17. Kevin H says:


    How about the Church Body? 😉

  18. Rick says:

    Duane, this is wonderful; I am in hearty agreement. I would love to see discussion here on how we get smaller, how we influence those on our right and left through invitational, rather than imperative, living. I tend to be more of a both–and, rather than an either–or, person. Probably as a result of surviving so much unnecessary conflict. How do we become peacemakers? How do we confer the value of the image of God that each person bears with those we may disagree with, rather than conferring shame and disgust. How do we reject sectarian and partisan violence? (Including the violence of language)

    How do we stand in-between those who hate each other now, rather than identifying with and joining in the climate of hatred of our political culture? Is it possible to moderate and deescalate that atmosphere?

    I am not sure we really understand the cost of what you are describing; it means that we may lose our sense of ‘belonging’ and our access to power. Having voluntarily rejected the primacy of politics long ago, and having been kicked out of the church cultural kingdom, I have found it to be a place of freedom and wonder–but it is a bit disconcerting in those initial lonely places. In a sense, it is meeting Jesus outside the camp.

    As usual I have questions–not answers, except very little of our church or political culture looks like the Jesus revealed in Scripture.

  19. Michael says:

    Well said pstrmike.

    One of the other questions moving forward is how to get Christians to engage with their own history…which extends past 1968… 🙂

  20. Michael says:


    That was good stuff…evidently there are more than a few of us on the same wave length…

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    Thanks everyone… I was hoping this might resonate. (Sorry to be delayed, but the cleaning of the garage beckoned!)

    To a few points:
    #8 Michael – Yes, pastoral care at the center. Might I add, “real” pastoral care, i.e. visiting the sick, nursing homes, etc. – not just the “office counseling session.

    #12 Michael – “Ethics”… isn’t it amazing how little we hear of this these days.

    #18 Rick – Your questions are valid. I think you touched on the over arching answer – a church that looks more like Christ and less like the culture…

  22. Jean says:


    Can you clarify something for me: Are you talking about a loose confederation of churches who worship differently and believe differently, but on the basis of some Christian fundamentals, such as the creeds, are polite to one another, or are you talking about such a group worshipping together?

  23. John 20:29 says:

    over my lifetime i have seen the Church – we are in almost all denominations… you mention Christ Jesus and you see love in their faces… they’re ready to discuss and defend the Faith – yet, it is a love quite different from the love of arguing doctrines… not quite sure how to pin it down and i won’t give it a label, either 🙂

  24. Xenia says:

    It goes without saying that I do not consider myself part of this new Via Media.

  25. Costco Cal says:

    Here is how I read it. The conglomerate described above simply sound blasé. As in, neither hot, nor cold, just….blah. It’s very safe territory. Yes, it is “accepting” and not a bit offensive. But so is the Rotary. It sounds boring to me. But heck, I may just be getting grumpy in my old age. 😉

  26. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’m in! This is where I’ve been for a while, and keep moving.

    However, I don’t see this as a trend around me. I see line in the sand after line in the sand, rather than reaching across the line in Christian love.

    May God allow this to be so.

  27. Duane Arnold says:

    #22 Jean

    I don’t think an “organized” body of such people is possible – at least not at present. I think the time has come for some sort of, as you say, “loose confederation”. I think, however, it has to start with individuals. You and I could choose to argue points of Lutheran or Anglican doctrine – it might be informative, but it will accomplish little. On the other hand we could share with each other the richness of each tradition, knowing that we are not out to “convince” but to “enhance”, basing our fellowship on the vast amount that we hold in common…

  28. pstrmike says:

    agreed. Most often when we institutionalize, we have predestined a shelf life. Loose confederations are the way to go, but they are an uncomfortable place for those who want to control.

  29. dusty says:

    Scooter jones, still praying for your son

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am in agreement with Xenia’s #24. I am not hostile to it, but I am not signing my name to Duane’s Indiana Statement 😉

    Perry Robinson on Facebook asked something to the effect “who gets to choose the middle?”

  31. Jean says:

    Duane #27,

    Well that’s what we share here and I’m in a FB group which has the same characteristics. What’s nice is that we can choose the articles with which to engage or just read and consider. And we can make some friends, which transcend the forum, and we can grow and change from the exposure to different points of view.

    But, it’s hard to imagine a similar physical forum. At least I can’t.

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    #30 MLD

    Not sure anyone asked you to sign on to anything…

  33. pstrmike says:

    “who gets to choose the middle?”

    All those who have the ability to discern the alternatives from the two prevailing extremes gets to. The “middle” is very broad territory.

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    #24 Xenia

    Hate to say it, but I think you already are a part of it… I think loads of people are a part of it just by being the people that they are…

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So “the middle” defines the middle? Sounds pretty much like relativism to me. Which is fine as I don’t think there is anything definable as “the middle”

    Everyone thinks they are the middle – no one thinks they are on the edge.
    I could say Lutherans are the middle and the claims of this article place those people on the John Shelby Spong left … I could say that – I don’t know that I will quite yet.

  36. John 20:29 says:

    Well, it might help to drop the ttrrm “middle” …
    Think of the Apostles or Nicene creeds as t the apex of the Faith… then run to your gatherings of choice and hang your other doctrines on the creed, but do so with a little of that fear and trembling mentioned somewhere…

  37. Kevin H says:

    As to Jean’s input, I don’t think there could be a regular physical worship gathering of those in the middle. There would be too many differences to be able to do this. However, those in this group, find a way to view and interact with their brothers and sisters in Christ more often through a lens that focuses on those things of primary importance with which they have agreement rather than those secondary and tertiary things where they have disagreement. They can disagree, but find ways to do it respectfully and without condescension or the need to attack. They place the unification of the faith above the division of church and/or national politics. But they are also not pushovers and will strongly stand for those things they believe to be right, such as those things that are most fundamental to the faith or where they see immoral behavior trying to win the day, especially when it comes from those in leadership.
    They don’t do these things perfectly or completely consistently, but more times than not. These are some of the additional things I envision of those in the middle.

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    #37 Kevin

    You get it exactly…

    #35 MLD

    Not a clue…

  39. pstrmike says:

    What I have found is that most conservatives or liberals either don’t see the middle or they consider it irrelevant, consisting of people who can’t make a decision, or as you put it, relativistic. So I would disagree that everyone sees themselves in the middle.Conservatives describe the middle as liberal, and liberals describe them as conservatives.

    I see it as a better alternative to those who assign imperatives upon things that either cannot be adequately expressed/proven or simply do not exist.

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    #39 Mike

    I would add that currently, extremes are fashionable… Its clear in the many blog sites, Facebook discussions, etc. Few wish to describe themselves as “moderates”.
    Maybe it’s because they are afraid that they will be yelled at from both sides!

  41. Kevin H says:

    “will be yelled at from both sides”

    A few more thoughts on that coming later this week. 🙂

  42. Rick says:

    I think the via media as described here is an operational definition of the Church Catholic; in essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, love. As Michael said, the pastoral heart based on what is real and true–can we care for each other even in the midst of doctrinal differences. I think the via media is not so much a moderate stance, but a deliberate stance between the temptation of extremes, a people, as, I think Peterson put it, between the times.

    It is interesting that Xenia and MLD think it important to declare that they are not a part of this via media. I think Duane’s statement to Xenia is correct, her behavior and engagement here belies her statement. But, I wonder why it is important to say. Is it a sense of superiority? Is it a warning?

  43. John 20:29 says:

    there are some wonder life lessons in Aesop’s Fables… right now i am reminded of the grandfather and his donkey… he and his grandson started out for market with their donkey carrying their goods… along the way they ran into critics and tried to adapt to each… grandfather put the boy on the donkey, met another critic and took the boy off and grandfather climbed on, met another critic and they both climbed on, met another critic and i can’t remember the ending, but i believe the two ended up carrying the donkey…

    i have a very funny mental picture at the moment… folk who own pleasure boats will need to have a dinghy – smaller boats usually have that dinghy, usually an inflatable, in tow bouncing along over the waters behind them… i am picturing our Lord’s ship with a couple dozen dinghies towing and bouncing along behind because we won’t all travel together in the same boat… call those tethers “grace”

    one ship sails east another west by the very same wind that blows – it’s the set of the sail and not the gail that determines the way the ship goes… just be sure your dinghy is tethered to the correct boat…

    sorry… it’s a boring, smoky day up here in the mountains where i am incarcerated with one dog and two cats in various stages of rebellions

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Rick, why would we allow ourselves to be defined, categorized or pigeon holed by a blog person?
    It seems that Duane has divided the group by dictating what a middle is and the denying when someone says that is not me.

    But I will ask, are you a joined by nature?

  45. Xenia says:

    I think Duane’s article discribes an attitude to adopt and not a new group to join. I am not interested in anything “new,” which explains my initial resistance.

  46. Rick says:

    Interesting; I thought Duane’s definition of the via media very broad, not pigeon holing at all. Am I a joiner by nature; I have been unjoined near as often as I have joined in terms of church or parachurch organizations. I am a member of the Church Catholic; I was joined by the grace of God and cannot be unjoined. I am satisfied with my membership there and will probably not join another human-run organization.

    What other identifications we choose, we cannot evade that one, in my view.

    You make an interesting point though; there cannot be a regular meeting of a community of the nature of a via media. To want community is to define it too narrowly and it would break down. Someone once said to love community is to kill it. I enjoy the interaction of those here, with there many varieties of emphases spiritually and questions. I am under no illusions we could live together as a cultural church–by our natures we define by what we are not rather than what we are.

  47. Xenia says:

    Here’s the thing: I believe the Eastern Orthodox Church is *the* Church that Christ established at Pentecost. I am not saying the rest of you do not attend proper churches and I am most certainly not saying those outside Orthodoxy are not saved. Certainly not. But I believe I have found the True Faith and I am not interested in making any modifications to my belief system to adapt to a new paradigm. Orthodoxy already has a high view of Scripture, a high view of the Church, and a deep sense of social justice.

    You are all welcome to join us. :

  48. Xenia says:

    Smiley didn’t make it.


  49. Steve says:

    I’m personally confused about the justice part. I understand it, but it means different things to different people. To some justice means that every woman should have access and the ability to pay for an abortion if needed. To others it means that they should be able to marry anyone they want. To others, every kid in the world should be college educated. Recently I came across a new acronym. LGBTQIA. I didn’t know what the IA was but it stands for Immigrant Asian. Personally, I am offended by much of this because it conflicts with my Biblical understanding. I have no problems with immigrants or Asians but the rest of this acronym is disturbing to me. Unfortunately, I think the term “justice” is getting wrapped up into a warped understanding of tolerance. Where do we draw the line and can we agree that the Bible’s understanding of justice is not the same as the worlds?

  50. Duane Arnold says:

    #45 Xenia

    Absolutely correct…

  51. Steve says:

    I’ll give you another one. Social justice is better akin to protecting our ozone layer by driving a hybrid car at the same time using that same car to drive a 16 year old to an abortion clinic. Its so messed in my opinion.

  52. Duane Arnold says:

    #49 Steve

    I know… “social justice” can be defined in many ways. For me, social justice is caring for “the least of these”, without prejudice, without distinctions. This idea of justice is based in the Golden Rule… it sounds old fashioned, but it seems to answer most situations we encounter. It is not a “blind tolerance”, but it is a love given owing to the love we have receive… a grace given, because of the grace we have received.

  53. Duane Arnold says:

    #44 MLD

    Being contrary just for the sake of being contrary speaks of one’s personality, not the truth.

  54. Duane Arnold says:

    #47 Xenia

    By the way, the hymn, “We have found the True Faith” almost made it on to “Mystic Chapel”… we still want to record it!

  55. Xenia says:

    Duane, that’s the hymn we all sing after we receive Communion!

    (I know you know this. 🙂 )

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    #55 Xenia

    Yes… as the narrative on “Mystic Chapel” was about the Easter Vigil, we were very concerned about going into the “Mysteries”… but, we’re looking at another project where it might fit. Be prepared… we use major chords on our version!

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I agree – you should stop.

  58. Duane Arnold says:


    You are simply one of those yelling from the peanut gallery. When you have something serious to say, let me know.

  59. Steve says:

    For me, social justice is caring for “the least of these”, without prejudice, without distinctions.

    Yeah, to me that would be protecting the unborn which unfortunately seems to have fallen off the radar as “the least of these”.

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I don’t get it – what you call for here is what is happening in today’s Christianity, and I don’t know that it is for the good.
    Greg Laurie is now a Southern Baptist Chapelite
    Evangelicalism is one big group that meets in “the middle” – a group from RC Sproul to Joel Osteen with very little distinction any longer so they all cling to the same title.
    World Lutheranism, in order to make nice with Rome has signed on to Rome’s version of “we have no differences”

    I don’t know how this makes Christianity stronger.

  61. Steve says:

    MLD has a point but I’ll take it one step further. I see all the world religions kind of coming together to meet in the middle and the idea that muslims and Christians worship the same God is becoming actually quite common language now adays.

  62. Duane Arnold says:


    Instead of looking at the negative, look at the large group of people in the middle. They are creedal Christians… moderates. They are not haters, but they care about the truth. Those are the people I am taking about. In fact, those are the people I love. They are not doctrinaire. They are intellectually active and they are more numerous than we imagine. “Strengthen that which remains”… a good motto for our times.

  63. Duane Arnold says:

    #61 Steve

    “Basically, it consists of people who can say the Apostles or Nicene Creeds without crossing their fingers behind their back. ”

    We’re not talking inter-faith here…

  64. Steve says:


    I hear what you are saying but back to the LGBTQIA I mentioned before most of the folks probably believe in these creeds too but in some strange way feel the church is constantly reforming. I’m completely perplexed about this.

  65. Jean says:

    Let me make the case for Duane’s Via Media:

    1) It sounds intriguingly close to the famous Ricky Martin song: Livin’ La Vida Loca. Who doesn’t like that song? Perhaps there’s a hit song out there: Livin’ La Via Media.

    2) If Christians want to influence American law for the good of the country in matters such as protection of the unborn, poverty, health care, education, environmental protection, workplace safety, a living wage, etc., then a Via Media would provide a larger voting block.

    3) If Christians are concerned about religious liberty, the sanctify of marriage between one man and one woman, and other issues of human sexuality and gender, then a Via Media would provide a larger voting block.

    So, Duane’s proposal offers an opportunity for different Christian faith communities to coalesce around some common political goals.

  66. Steve says:

    I’m committed to trying to stay apolitical in my church. Voting blocks are not on my radar.

  67. John 20:29 says:

    I’m confused….
    Is Dr. Diane proposing a new organization or just identifying the core of serious Christianity as it is manifesting today? I didn’t catch his justification of watering down the Faith to make it more inclusive, not was he calling for those with walls around their practice of the Faith to tear them down was he?

    To tell the truth, tho, I kind of like those walls as their confinement helps me identify those who need protection from me… ?

  68. Scooter Jones says:

    Dr. Diane? 😉

  69. Jean says:

    Steve, really? Were you not the one defending the rights of the unborn in comments? How is that not political?

  70. Steve says:

    Jean, I was making a statement about our current climate of social justice. If social justice is defined as taking care of “the least of these” than shouldn’t we be being concerned about the unborn as being part of that? I’m not the one that mentioned social justice or defined it because I don’t even like the term.

  71. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, what are you talking about? The rights of the unborn can be defended straight from natural law without ever stepping into the political arena.

  72. Jean says:

    Cool Steve. I don’t think I used the term “social justice.” However, if you are passionate about the unborn, is that not a political and voting issue?

  73. Jean says:


    Natural Law doesn’t appoint judges or vote for government representatives of various types.

  74. Steve says:


    I supposed it can be used as a political issue if you are a one issue voter and you absolutely believe the politicians are not full of bs. But as MLD said, I can be concerned about the unborn but it doesn’t need to be turned into politics for me. I’m savy enough to descern the difference between church and state.

  75. Michael says:

    It baffles me why people think that those of us concerned about social justice aren’t concerned about abortion.
    It’s this binary left and right thinking that automatically excludes a true biblical belief in social justice.

    I care about the unborn, those who have been born, and those who are finishing their journey.

    Pro life means all life…

  76. Duane Arnold says:

    Dr. Diane here… Oh no, now I’m really in trouble! (Why do I have the feeling that I’m going to have to wear this…)

    Jean, this is not really political. It is saying, however, that we can make common cause in a variety of ways with people of faith who are not extreme in their positions. I’m looking at a “common” or “mere” Christianity. Why is it so hard for people to understand moderation? Have we become so mesmerized by social media that only an extreme position is heard? If so, we are in real trouble…

  77. CostcoCal says:

    “Pro-life means all life.”


  78. CostcoCal says:

    …where “our side” drops the ball is that we are so adamant about Pro-Life before birth. Yet, are negligent (to say the least) in regards to Pro-Life afterward.

  79. Michael says:

    Unfortunately, the fate of “the least of these” is affected by political action here. Advocating for them because of biblical beliefs doesn’t demand fidelity to either side of our system.

  80. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Actually I was just watching a Kirk Cameron video about yesterday’s national day of prayer (I must have missed it) but it was brought on and encouraged by Trumps faith council – I guess that is a good example of THE MIDDLE. I’m still running from it.

  81. Jean says:

    Michael, if we were to put your topic in biblical lingo, we could say that where the Bible speaks of mercy and love towards the poor, many popular expressions of American Christianity speak of free markets and meritocracy. Basically, today’s church in large measure believes people get what they deserve.

  82. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is where I usually like to come in, throw the yellow flag and call foul.
    If it is in “large measure” that the American church does not care about the least of these or really do believe that people are getting what they deserve, anyone here want to start listing some of those churches in their local community that fit that description?

    Now, the only ones I know who think people are getting what’s coming to them are the Calvinists – but that is a different story.

    OK, let’s see the list of local churches that fall under the above description.

  83. CostcoCal says:

    Lakewood Church in Houston.

  84. Jean says:

    That MLD does not comport with the etiquette of the blog. We talk about issues and allow people to make their own application.

  85. CostcoCal says:

    Jean, I think it’s appropriate to call out Lakewood.

    A huge fumble that doesn’t help any of us as Christians.

  86. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, because I don’t want to defend Osteen – I will give you that one. But as we are speaking of a large measure of the American church – do you have a few to offer up that are local to you? They don’t have to be large – perhaps the 100 member Presbyterian church near you.

  87. Steve says:


    I just recently got into the social justice stuff when a lady was invited to speak at our church on missions. I found out she was ordained in the “united Church of Christ”. You probably couldn’t find a more pro-abortion denomination out there and their commitment to LGBTQ rights surpasses just about all of them. This was all couched in social justice lingo. I had to have a talk with our elder about having a speaker from this denomination preach. I guess this is why I am a bit jaded with all this social justice talk within Christianity.

  88. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, this blog has always called out by name.
    But tell me, if you must keep names private, do you of local churches in your area who do not give a damn about the least of these or think people are getting what they deserve?

  89. CostcoCal says:

    MLD, I just gave you a prime example. Work on that one for awhile. 🙂

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, but at least the SJ people care. We may think it is misdirected but they care. What we have on the table before us now is the charge that a large portion of American churches do not give a damn. Churches mind you – not just individuals.

  91. CostcoCal says:

    …and pick up your yellow flag.

  92. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Costco, you know that if you looked at their books they actually give a great deal to missions and charities – in fact I am sure they give more than the entire budget of your church which is substantial. So you cannot say they do not care at all — which ids the charge.

    But I will go with that – we have 1 out of the 100,000 churches in America that does not give a damn.

  93. CostcoCal says:

    Creflo Dollar, PTL, Eddie Long, Crystal Cathedral…..

    It’s like bobbing for apples here.

  94. John 20:29 says:

    Dr. Diane???? Blast this little know it all Fire thing with its auto correct… or it could have been me tapping the wrong letter – I do need new glasses – Diane is a very nice name, but…….
    I apologize to Dr. DUANE… ?

  95. Josh The Baptist says:

    When he posts about social justice, we’ll call him Dr. Dianne. 🙂

    Totally kidding, guys. I very much like this article.

    I haven’t seen a critique of substance yet, so I won’t go any deeper. Thanks Duane!

  96. Jean says:


    Most Christians I know do enough to ease their conscience.

    I know very few who forgo any convenience for the poor.

    I hear almost no preaching against the spiritual danger of wealth.

    I see little or no difference in the consumerism of Christians vs. non-Christians.

    I am no better than anyone else.

  97. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Costco – all you know is that the pastors may have been corrupt – but you have no idea that those local church bodies did not care for the poor. (but I realize from your background, the pastor is the church)
    But you are going after low hanging fruit – it is such a huge pond, surely you can rattle off a good half dozen local southern Oregon churches.

  98. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Most Christians I know do enough to ease their conscience.”
    I don’t know about you, but I pay 50% of my income to taxes which is giving to others – don’t give me that crap Christians give a minimum.

  99. Jean says:

    “I don’t know about you, but I pay 50% of my income to taxes which is giving to others – don’t give me that crap Christians give a minimum.”

    One dishonest comment after another. You’re toxic on this blog friend.

  100. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, to not embarrass you and catch you in a lie – I will ask you off blog to name the lie.

  101. Jean says:


    Prov 29:9.

  102. Duane Arnold says:

    Well, well, well… I see irony is not dead as a literary form. We try to talk about moderation and inter-action with people of good faith and good will and… we have people screaming from the sidelines because taking an extreme oppositional position is a way to be heard on social media.

    In my opinion, we’ve come to a time in which we can no longer afford to fulfill our own ego trips, waving our confessional flags to make a point. Have we really lost the sense of what it means to accept and love others who share our faith? Or do we now have to put them through a process of assent to our particular tribe and our particular confession of faith? Better yet, let’s hijack the thread just for the hell of it. It is remarkably sad…

  103. Xenia says:

    The other day, the Nashville Statement, a list of biblical principles, was presented for our discussion. Most of the people here were leery of it, so MLD comes out in favor of it.

    Today, another list of biblical principles are presented. Most of the people here approve so MLD comes out against it.

    MLD, you can’t blame us for thinking you are just being contentious for the sake of being contentious.

  104. Duane Arnold says:

    #104 Xenia

    Thank you. You are kinder than I am.

  105. Dan from Georgia says:

    Duane, agreed. This has become a tiresome trend on the PhPx. I don’t like to argue with people here, so I avoid the contentious debates, but I really do believe some people here think that their particular faith expression is the correct one, and the rest of us are barely saved, if saved at all.

  106. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, if you go back and check the linkathon thread you will see that I came out in favor of the NS before the negative comments began. If this is so, could a case be made that you were all against it because I was for it? If so who was being contrary and contentious?

    But you did catch me, I confess I do not decide my positions by the flow of the crowd.
    I will leave the echo chamber.

  107. Duane Arnold says:


    As I said, “The virulent voices that demand assent to their particular point of view, whatever it might be at the moment (it often changes from week to week, year to year) will find themselves addressing fewer and fewer potential converts.”

    For those of us who care about what is going on, we have less and less time for this sort of childish behavior. In the main, I have found many on PhPx who actually want to engage in learning and thoughtful discussion. It seems, however, that some have a very different agenda.

  108. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Duane, and I should clarify that I am not calling for some people to leave the PhPx group here because of some strife. Not calling for censorship or having an echo chamber here. I don’t always agree with people here, but for some reason or other I don’t feel like I have to make an issue out of what I don’t agree with. I think it’s valuable to lean from others, and hey, maybe I am wrong on some areas that I have headstrong opinions on!

  109. CostcoCal says:

    C’mon Duane. Get some thicker skin! 🙂

  110. Duane Arnold says:

    #109 Dan

    I think that is wholly admirable and appropriate. Learning does not take place in an echo chamber and, God knows, we can always be wrong…

  111. Duane Arnold says:

    #110 CostcoCal

    According to some, I’ve already got rhino hide… maybe look for plate armor next?

  112. pstrmike says:


    Yep. I was thinking this discussion slide rather far from the OP. Looks like you are taking a few shots from both sides. 😉

  113. Duane Arnold says:

    #113 Mike

    I guess that’s the risk of the via media. Maybe this gives the commentary to the article…

  114. Xenia says:

    Dan wrote:

    but I really do believe some people here think that their particular faith expression is the correct one, and the rest of us are barely saved, if saved at all.<<<

    I am one who believes I have found the correct expression of the faith but I believe you all are probably more saved than I am.

  115. Dan from Georgia says:


    As a corollary to your corollary to my statement (ouch, my head hurts on that one)…I thought in the past that I found the one true expression of Christian faith in several different places. Something always made me run from those places. Not that they were wrong, but one time in particular I just didn’t like how it made me feel superior to others.

    Still looking and still hanging on to the Lord.

  116. Michael says:

    I’ll take MLD’s challenges as an opportunity for clarification.

    I do not think it an exaggeration to say that the evangelical base in this country also holds to a particular political ideology.
    This is not new, it’s been this way for years.

    This ideology is committed to a small government and is usually in opposition to government funded social programs.

    When I went on unemployment back in 2009, I heard from them and they were often cruel in their assessments of people (many millions at the time) who were running out of unemployment benefits.
    I still carry those scars.

    This group believes that in lieu of government programs the church should handle these issues of of “benevolence”.

    Under the rubric of the rule of law, they oppose any mercy for undocumented people.

    Any social issue other than abortion is considered liberal and thus not Christian.

    The ability to have any sort of productive dialog about these issues has utterly disappeared in the social media era.

    There are those of us in the vast middle that seek to speak Christian ethics into these matters who are ignored or castigated for not being on one extreme or the other.

    There are those of us in the vast middle who don’t feel the need to sign another polarizing statement about biblical morality, when we are constantly dealing pastorally with our own moral failures.

    There are those of us who would welcome good and honest governing whether it tilted right or left and spoke to those issues we think the Scriptures hold as priorities.

    A city with Dan, Duane, Xenia, Jean, and Mike working out their faith in public and in private would be a blessed town indeed.

  117. JD says:

    Welcome to the Official State Church of The United States of Leukwarmia. Not sayin’ that includes anyone here of course. 😉
    Many act as if the narrow gate leads to a broad road with many exits that all lead to heaven.
    Others seem to be walking on a razor’s edge all the time.
    Neither approach works, nor does continuously falling, failing or living victoriously with one’s head in the sand for that matter.
    I believe it’s best when we go from strength to strength as the Lord helps us and lifts us up by His great mercy as we grow closer to Him. Our weakness and failures pale in the light of His great victory on the cross as we press on towards the mark; through storms, rocky places, tribulations, and persecution.
    He is all we ever need. Other things are necessary, but at all times we need Him.

  118. Duane Arnold says:

    #117 Michael

    Agreed. If you remember the 60s, you might remember the phrase “radical chic” – it was fashionable to take extreme positions. As I said above in the thread, it has become fashionable again, to the extent that moderation or even the ability to see someone else’s point of view has become suspect – socially and theologically. Today, the “correct” way to respond to another point of view is to attack and, if possible, make the attack personal. I wonder, how many have been harmed in this manner? How many with real gifts to offer the church have been pushed aside or even pushed out? I remember the verse stating “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench”. We, however, choose chainsaws and a scorched earth policy… and, sadly, we do it in the name of “truth”.

  119. Steve says:

    Michael said, “Any social issue other than abortion is considered liberal and thus not Christian.”

    Abortion is not the only issue that is not Christian. A bigger one that has become mainstream is LGBTQ issue and from my standpoint is clearly non Christian but I really don’t expect our government to espouse Christian values. My problem is this manifestation of this in the church not so much the government.

  120. Michael says:


    Abortion is a issue which Christians should be and are concerned about.
    While I hold to a tradition, historic, view on biblical sexuality, anyone who’s been a pastor for more than a month knows that most people are broken and these things are more complex than bullet point statements.

  121. Scooter Jones says:

    “A city with Dan, Duane, Xenia, Jean, and Mike working out their faith in public and in private would be a blessed town indeed”

    Does that city also include Dr. Diane? ?

  122. Duane Arnold says:

    #122 Scooter

    What did I say? I knew this was going to happen…

  123. Steve says:

    Michael, I understand the complexity about human sexuality and I’m not making this issue a litmus test for anything but that doesn’t mean that the liberal side isn’t making it a litmus test for their generous orthodoxy. The social justice activists will call anybody and everybody who has the least bit of a conviction on the matter a hater and getting in the way of of their plan and ultimately Gods plan for justice . I’m not referring to anyone on this blog but just go to the United Church of Christ website and check it out yourself. I mentioned earlier that we have an ordained guest lady pastor from the United Church of Christ who is going to be preaching this Sunday on missions. I needed to do a gut check whether I am in the right church or not.

  124. Duane Arnold says:


    For what it’s worth, I don’t see this as a social justice issue as much as the church conforming to culture – whether that is ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative. I’m a believer in the church determining it’s own moral theology, regardless of what is done or advocated in the secular realm.

    Michael may see it differently, but I think we’re pretty well on the same page.

  125. Michael says:


    Do you think it may be possible that some folks have wrestled with this issue and come to a different conclusion than you?

    Are they necessarily people with a subversive agenda?

    Now, this morning, the President stopped the DACA program putting 800,000 young people in danger of deportation.
    I think that’s as immoral as distorted sexuality.
    I do so based on biblical ethics in both Testaments.
    Does this make me a social justice warrior or a concerned Christian?

  126. Steve says:


    I cried when I heard about the potential fate of the end of the DACA program. My church and myself are committed to ministering to immigrants. However, I don’t blame this on Trump or even congress who he has punted to to fix it. This is an issue the church needs to grapple with but I’m not blaming the church either. I think you are a concerned Christian as well as I am.

  127. Michael says:


    As you know there’s a part of me that just doesn’t care…especially when on a separate thread I have people supporting a heterosexual pastor who should have been disqualified for sexual sin long ago.

    We’ve rung this bell over and over and I still have seen no fruit from it other than a hardening of hearts.

    Still, I believe you are correct in saying that our moral theology is ancient and established and is our standard.

  128. Michael says:


    Then you would agree with me that our moral outrage is quite selective and is based more on political considerations than biblical ethics?

  129. Steve says:

    Michael, I agree with you on lots of stuff but you just made a pretty broad sweeping statement that I’m not sure who you are referring to. Yes, in mainstream evangelicalism in American you may be correct that political considerations outweigh biblical ones. That is why I like to stay outside the mainstream.

  130. Michael says:


    If conservative evangelicals release a long statement with the name of a city attached to it affirming immigration reform with many bullet points and Scriptures, I’ll withdraw my statement…

  131. Duane Arnold says:

    #131 Michael

    Ultimate irony… many of the dreamers, consistent with other second generation Hispanic immigrants, have become a part of evangelical churches…

  132. Steve says:


    No need. I agree with you. Conservative evangelical Christians suck. Ok, I’m one of them but I have also been labeled as a Trump-aligned conservative white male evangelical. That makes me even suckier. But if people ever got to know me, I hope they would find a compassionate, kind and loving Christian. And NO I didn’t sign the long statement. But it doesn’t matter, the labels have already defined me for those who want to look at me this way. God help us all.

  133. Michael says:


    I think one of the things that would mark out the way Duane has written of would be a loss of labels…especially ones that confine us and mark us broadly.

  134. John 20:29 says:

    #123 – Dr. DUANE – i promise to never again post from my Amazon Fire tablet… you should see some of the mistakes/auto corrections that i’ve caught… maybe we could use this creatively? create a straw man/woman, Dr. Diane says… 🙂

  135. Xenia says:

    Michael, your 134 is one of the things I personally can’t get on board with. I will never give up my Eastern Orthodox label. Duane’s philosophy of love and compassion has my whole-hearted approval. 🙂

  136. Steve says:


    I like Duane’s article. Where it becomes a stretch for me is that we will no longer understand each other and our distinctions. Maybe that’s a good thing in the long run. We can become more innocent like children and not know the difference but that would be ignoring a lot of stuff of what makes us who we are.

  137. John 20:29 says:

    ” I’m a believer in the church determining it’s own moral theology, regardless of what is done or advocated in the secular realm.”
    why is this so hard for us to get clear in our minds? is it because the evangelical community as a whole saw it as their duty to promote our values in the civic realm?
    well it is our duty to live the Faith, promote our values as the highest and best, live our values…

    Yet, IMHO, only Christ, Himself, can and will *enforce* God’s laws … we live in an interesting time right now in the U.S.A…
    >kids immigrated and left hanging by a conflict of the separation of powers of our government that could destroy the very rule of law that makes the young people want to live here
    >a looming nuclear repeat of Pearl Harbor (up for debate)
    >one of our biggest and the hub of our energy production returned to swamp land
    >another hurricane bearing down on Florida and surrounds
    >forest and brush fires all over the West, threatening 2 National Parks as well as homes and some of the most beautiful timbered land in the world
    >the AI issue, as far as we know, has left the U.S. in the dust (my late husband was involved in this, so it’s on my radar) – further, the whole computer world upon which we are so dependent is so vulnerable to sending the modern world into instant chaos
    there’s probably more… must be the end times 🙂

    so i cycle back to Dr. Duane’s observation and say amen – I too am “a believer in the church determining it’s own moral theology, regardless of what is done or advocated in the secular realm.” this is the Kingdom that is my reality – it is my hope and my truth, my still point in this wildly spinning world

    just sayin …. again

  138. Michael says:

    I don’t mean our ecclesiastical affiliations…I mean labels like “conservative” and “liberal” that carry so much baggage.

    I’m an Anglican… 🙂

  139. Duane Arnold says:

    #136 Xenia

    I will likely always be an Anglican of some sort or another. The “labels” I would like to see retired have less to do with an ecclesiastical tradition and more to do with opinions. I can be a conservative and still be concerned about DACA. I can be a liberal and still hold to a very high view of Scripture. My concern is that we are constantly classifying others, not to embrace them, but in order to make sure that they are no a part of “my tribe”. It has gone on for too long…

    I know that I (an Anglican) could have a dinner with Xenia (EO), Josh (Baptist), Keven (Calvary Chapel), Jean (Lutheran) and even my old friend JM Talbot (RC) and without giving up any part of of who we are we could have deep and meaningful fellowship and we would agree across a whole range of conversational topics. To be honest, we need each other.

  140. Duane Arnold says:

    #139 Michael

    Great minds… or even not so great minds (like us), think alike.

  141. John 20:29 says:

    #142 – well… Since Loretta doesn’t have a womb and Dr. Diane doesn’t really have a brain….
    Maybe all erroneous thinking here can be attributed to originating in Dr. Diane’s box (her substitution for a brain)? Sorry, I won’t mention the lady again… but then I’ve already broken my resolution to not type on this pad again…

    I will reset my resolve and try again…

  142. JD says:

    If we can continue to focus on what binds us together instead of on our petty/peculiar differences it should go a long way towards fostering love and unity. I’m just grateful to be accepted here, as an disenfranchised outcast from church at the moment. 🙂

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