The below article ties in with some discussion that has been going on at the Between Two Worlds Blog this past week. For the record I have attended Woodland Hills Church many times, and have heard 50 or so of Boyd’s sermons (some on radio). My wife (then girlfriend) attended this church for 7 years, and in the middle of the series referenced below, she got up and walked out of a service never to return. I have met Greg Boyd, and he seems really nice, but I think he is out in left field on a number of points theologically.

(From FotF’s Pastor’s Weekly Breifing)

Before the last presidential election, Rev. Gregory A. Boyd preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation,” and stop glorifying American military campaigns. While Boyd does not consider himself a liberal and purports to oppose abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal, his sermons set off quite a reaction by his congregation. Some members walked out during a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled at his Woodland Hills Church in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, the church, which Boyd had started with 40 members in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

Sermons like Boyd’s are hardly typical today in evangelical churches, and the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially regarding the war in Iraq.

“When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker,” said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. Boyd was credited with the church’s quick growth because he was an electrifying preacher who stuck closely to Scripture. “But we totally disagreed with him on this [sermon series]. You can’t be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70s, it wouldn’t have happened. But the church was asleep.”

Boyd also created a controversy a few years ago by questioning whether God fully knew the future. And, in his six sermons, he laid out a broad argument that the true role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did. “I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ,” Boyd said.

His congregation of about 4,000 is still digesting his message. During a forum he arranged on a recent Wednesday night, many of the 56 questions submitted were pointed: Isn’t abortion an evil that Christians should prevent? Are you saying Christians should not join the military? How can Christians possibly have “power under” Osama bin Laden? Didn’t the church play an enormously positive role in the civil rights movement?

One woman asked, “So, why not us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn’t we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?”

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