People change. Generally slow. A discrepancy can develop between what one feels at home at and the inner transformation that most people undergo in their lives. That inner change is an inevitable consequence of growing up and getting older. The resulting inner major and minor conflicts demand a response in which an adjustment usually takes place, one that overcomes the distance and establishes new connections in heart and min; one is able to travel on albeit in a new and fresh realisation and definition of reality. However, this process does not stop and one can reach a point where possible bridging options are exhausted. Then a more radical action is needed to achieve a new normal. Both sides of a conflict have a certain degree of elongation and differences in thinking and practices can be reconciled to a certain extent.
Everything and everyone has a breaking point and when Billy arrived at that point where the differences proved irreconcilable, it was his choice to leave the church. His "problem" was not with God, the Bible, or the phenomenon called Church, but more with the institutionalized ideas and practices related to these and often seemed immovable.
At first, Billy was bitter and disillusioned and especially resented, blaming the church and the people in it. Having given himself time to think about his own place in the process - which was difficult enough because man seems to be inclined to point to external factors - he realized that it was not entirely fair to blame his environment for a process of change that took place mainly in his inner life.
Billie shared his acquired insights with me and asked what my thoughts were on this. This is what I had to offer to Billy:
Together with the personal development process that a person undergoes, everything about us is constantly evolving. It is therefore inevitable that we regularly recalibrate our position vis-à-vis all these external forces and reassess our position. An example from history: Martin Luther and Erasmus were contemporaries and both members of the same institution church. In that church too many things were outright wrong (in light of what they discovered and learned from their study of the Bible) and both men came to the conclusion that the system had to be overhauled, changed, or even obliterated. Luther opted for secession and played an important role in (only partially) shedding the tyrannical yoke of the Catholic Church. He left the church with big gestures and bold words. His part in the reformation is of world-changing order. The fact that this new movement soon institutionalized is a different story, but historically the transition from movement to institute turns out to be a tough reality.
What I am saying here is that it may be right to draw a line in the sand, as Luther did, with the result that a new institute was established that had to learn to co-exist with that other institution which, to this day goes hand in hand with ample bloodshed.
In my opinion, Erasmus's path is a sympathetic path and more effective in the long run and therefore recommended. In choosing that route, one sticks to the basics - that what connects and unites me with the other - and critically constructively calling out the noise in systems around us. The effect is not always immediate, but in the long run, this critical-constructive approach works from the depth of reality to its width.
Of course, there are irreconcilable breaking points that leaves a person only one choice and that is to walk away from the system. For me personally, that would be the central place Christ (and the Cross) takes in God’s big story. I know, it's just a few words and that there’s a world behind them. What worries me and what I want to watch out for is when noise starts to disrupt and obscure that central place of Christ. That is what tends to happen when the church as a movement of God becomes an institution of man. Therefore the Church must always be on the move.
This is the fifth and last blog in a series of five about Billy Bobsleigh leaving the church.
1. How Billy Bobsleigh got burned
2. Possibly to blame for Bill's burn 1: God
3. Possibly to blame for Bill's burn 2: The Bible
4. Possibly to blame for Bill's burn 3: The church
5. Possibly to blame for Bill's burn 4: Billy