Christianity Today’s article – “Fire and Nice” – Minneapolis/St. Paul is home to a “feisty collection of influential churches”. Interesting article. It discusses John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones at Solomon’s Porch, Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church, and Leith Anderson at Woodale Church.
Regarding Woodland Hills Church and its pastor, Greg Boyd, Hansen reports:
Boyd tells me that visitors to Woodland Hills occasionally ask him about open theism, typically after a relative researches him on the Internet and warns them. But open theism is not what makes him especially controversial in the Twin Cities. His church’s attendance did not drop by 20 percent because he believes God lacks exhaustive foreknowledge.
“Woodland Hills lost 1,000 people paying the price to become a more multiethnic church,” says Efrem Smith, a friend of Boyd’s and pastor of the new Sanctuary Covenant Church in north Minneapolis. “Greg preached a sermon series called ‘The Cross or the Sword’ that purposely downsized his church so they could become what they truly want to be.”
Boyd’s 2004 sermon series became the basis of his book The Myth of a Christian Nation. He resolved to preach the series after several church members subtly and sometimes overtly encouraged him to promote conservative political candidates. He launched into a full-throated assault on the Religious Right. In the last four years, Boyd has consistently preached on the costly demands of the kingdom of God, such as nonviolence. His church will not pray for soldiers.
Chris Meirose, whose wife was one of the people who left, takes issue with Efrem’s statement about Woodland Hills.
I want to point out that this is a misleading statement, and if Efrem Smith is buying Boyd’s sales job on this, then that lowers my previously high view of Efrem Smith. Simply stated the 1000+ people who walked out on Greg Boyd (many while he was preaching) was over his very soft stance on abortion. It wasn’t over his refusal to preach the “Republican” gospel or anything else. I suspect if you dig through Boyd’s and Woodland Hill’s web sites (Boyd admits it here), the letters he/they wrote following that week are still likely online. It is disappointing that Boyd has chosen to frame this in a political way, and is apparently doing a good sales job of that to his friends. Abortion transcends politics. It is aberrant and abhorrent. It is not God’s plan.
While I can sympathize with Boyd’s views that the church has become too entangled with the GOP. I think he’s guilty by nature of that sermon series what he was accusing many evangelicals of. Also, refuse to pray for soldiers? Are you kidding me? You don’t have to agree with the war to pray for soldiers. That’s insulting.