Where is the Hope? In Which I am “Peddling Pop Pollyanna Ecclesiology,” and Refuse to Back Down

So, my last post about Christian unity. Most people seemed to like it, but a few took issue with it.

This is nothing new. I try to be diplomatic in my writing, and people typically respond with grace. Still, there are always a few detractors, and oftentimes they have good reasons for saying the things they say. I respect that.

But one particular comment on Red Letter Christians caught me up short. I was accused of “peddling pop Pollyanna ecclesiology.”

I was rather creative, and made me laugh, even as I scratched my head. I thought about making it my new blog byline!

Now, I have no idea what this person’s motives were in writing this comment, whether he was offering his opinion in goodwill, or just scratching an itch to correct someone online. His point seemed to be that to achieve unity, we need to rebuke people who are “wrong” about the points of doctrine we believe in, instead of embracing them as brothers and sisters.

To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for ya?”

I mean, yes, we need to have discussions about things. Very serious discussions. But it isn’t my job to fix anyone’s theology. To say the things God has called me to say, yes. To teach the Bible as faithfully as I can, yes. But conviction is the Holy Spirit’s job. I’m not taking responsibility for that.

Plus, I’m ECC, and we don’t divide over secondary theological issues. It’s who we are.

But really, it was the “Pop Pollyanna ecclesiology” that got me.

I’ve been called “Pollyanna” before, and even blogged about that a few weeks ago.

But here’s the thing: the way he (I’m assuming it was a “he”) said it, “Pollyanna” was an insult.

Pollyanna is too hopeful, too naive, too eager to believe the best about others.

Pollyanna is a sucker. What the world needs is not faith, hope and love, but a good smackdown. Forget Pollyanna–we should all be Aunt Polly, rebuking people for getting out of line, and making sure everyone else does too.

How dour!

But you know what? What I’ve seen over the last week is a very Aunt Polly version of Christianity. Self-righteous. Condescending. Pessimistic. Tight-lipped, sour disapproval, occasionally boiling over into manipulation and rage.

Where’s the faith?

Where’s the hope?

Where’s the love?

Friends, where’s the JOY?

I know that many people have been hurt by the events of the past week, and I am truly not trying to make light of that. Truly.

I know that many people on all sides of the World Vision controversy are grieving, and my heart breaks with them.

But I feel like some of the true colors of American Christendom were exposed last week, and oh, friends. It was so very Aunt Polly.

“These days we go to waste like wine, that’s turned to turpentine…”

Do you remember how Pollyanna ends? Pollyanna defies Aunt Polly and tries to sneak out of the house, only to fall and break her back, leaving her paralyzed. Pollyanna’s broken body smashes through the ice in Aunt Polly’s heart, and she repents of her antagonism. When Pollyanna can’t find any hope, it is Aunt Polly who takes up Pollyanna’s optimistic encouragement, refusing to let her languish in the dark, like she had before Pollyanna came into her life. They heal together.

I am praying for healing. That we will all heal together. And that the healed areas, the part where the pieces have been knit back together, will be even stronger than they were before the break.

The negative feelings surrounding the way Christians often treat each other are very, very valid, and we need to work through them honestly.

But we also need to cling to faith, hope, and love. We will shrivel up if we don’t. And that won’t do anyone any good.

Wishing you all steak and ice cream,






2 Responses to Where is the Hope? In Which I am “Peddling Pop Pollyanna Ecclesiology,” and Refuse to Back Down

  1. Diana Trautwein March 30, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    Heck, yeah. I tell you what, jenny. These last three+ years out here in cyberspace have made me about 100 times happier to be ECC than I’ve ever been. And I’ve been really happy about it for a long time. But my goodness, this insistent desire to demand that every detail of theological discussion be in line with someone’s invisible (or highly visible!) line in the sand is just plain exhausting. Thanks for putting it out here so articulately.

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