Over two and a half months ago, I began a series of posts in response to a blog post by Mark Sandlin (a liberal PC(USA) pastor) titled “At What Point Do We Get to Say Parts of Christianity Are No Longer Christian?” Yes, this is the second in that series. I truly did not intend to take that long to get back to this; life and other topics intervened. I’m quite sure I’ll have the third up much more quickly than that, since I’ve already started working on it. For now, though, go read Sandlin’s post and the first part of my response; I’ll still be here when you get back.
If you’ve done that, then I can take my positive comments on Sandlin’s post as read and go from there. This is important because my first critical observation is actually implicit in my praise of his work. Sandlin frames his subject in terms of judgment, and frets that identifying and calling out people who are using Christianity rather than practicing it (the distinction is his, and it’s a good one) is “judgmental” and “mean.” My response, by contrast, is framed in terms of discernment, which is related but significantly different. I believe there’s a category error lurking at the heart of Sandlin’s argument; it’s a subtle one, but important nonetheless.